The latest UK economic output figures published today were marginally better than forecast but that is where any good news stops.

The data from the Office for National Statistics show a stagnating UK economy, with no growth in gross domestic product between the second and third quarters.

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While a marginally better outturn than the 0.1% dip in third-quarter GDP which was the consensus forecast in a poll by Reuters, the UK economy’s stagnation should come as no surprise. Households and businesses are under pressure from the surge in interest rates that the Bank of England has decided is needed to tackle the country’s inflation crisis. Then we have the continuing damage from Brexit and the dearth of growth-orientated policies from the Conservatives at Westminster.

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The UK services sector contracted by 0.1% quarter-on-quarter in the three months to September, with production output flat. The construction sector eked out a 0.1% quarter-on-quarter rise in output in the three months to September.

Economists flagged a continued danger of recession for the UK.

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The ONS data show that UK GDP in the third quarter was up just 0.6% on the same period of last year.

Investment bank Morgan Stanley - while noting the third-quarter GDP figures were stronger than both the consensus forecast and its expectations with “net trade and inventories masking very weak domestic demand” - declared it saw a “decent chance of a downwards revision” of third-quarter output in subsequent readings.

Bruna Skarica, UK economist at Morgan Stanley, said in a note titled “UK GDP – weak under the hood”: “Overall, the risks of a technical recession at the turn of the year are still large, although, barring a severe deterioration in the global outlook, any further correction is likely to be relatively mild, we think.

“On the whole, momentum looks soft and we see downside risks rising, as the policy drags counter positive real wage growth.”

She added that Morgan Stanley saw “no more hikes” in base rates from the Bank of England and expected “the cutting cycle to start next year - we think as early as May”.

The Bank of England has increased UK base rates from a record low of 0.1% in December 2021 to 5.25%.

Thomas Pugh, economist at accountancy firm RSM UK, said: “The economy avoided contracting by the skin of its teeth in Q3.”

While projecting a return to growth in the fourth quarter, Mr Pugh said: “However, the big picture is still one of a stagnating economy. We doubt growth will materially pick up until towards the end of next year, meaning that the spectre of recession will hang over the UK economy for a long time yet.”

It is, without doubt, a miserable state of affairs.