Economic growth set to slow in third quarter

The think-tank said the economy would expand by 0.4 per cent in the three months to September.

That is just half the pace of NIESR’s forecast of 0.8 per cent growth it made in May.

According to The BBC, data this week showed the UK manufacturing sector grew only weakly in July, whilst the pace of expansion in the construction sector also slowed.

However, NIESR said the UK economy would expand by 2.5 per cent this year – unchanged from its May estimate.

In July the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) revised its prediction for GDP growth in 2015 down from 2.5 per cent to 2.4 per cent because of the slower than expected start to the year.

The economy expanded by 0.7 per cent in the three months to June, helped by a big rise in oil and gas production.

While NIESR was generally upbeat about the UK economy, it believed that weak productivity would remain a challenge.

Simon Kirby, an economist at the institute, said: “It’s the major domestic risk.”

NIESR expects inflation to remain about zero until the end of the year due to low oil prices and the strong pound, but that it will return to the Bank of England’s target of about 2 per cent a year by 2017.

Mr Kirby said the rise in the value of sterling and a fall in oil prices would be temporary.

The think-tank expects the Bank of England to finally raise interest rates in February.

Economists polled by Reuters last month mostly said the Bank would raise rates for the first time since 2007 in the first quarter of 2016.

The Monetary Policy Committee is expected to leave rates unchanged at its August meeting this week, but is expected to show a split for the first time this year on the need to raise borrowing costs immediately.