'Economic Growth Will Grind to a Halt' Warning

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BRITAIN'S economic growth will almost grind to halt by the end of the year, the Confederation of British Industry said yesterday as it warned pressure was building on manufacturers.

It said total orders for manufacturers remained at a five-and-a-half year low and predicted output growth would slow to only 0.9 per cent in 1999.

Exporters had been savaged by the strong pound and orders from overseas fell back to May's level, when they were at their lowest point since January 1983.

In its monthly industrial trends survey, the CBI found manufacturers were more pessimistic about future output than they had been since November 1992.

And in its quarterly economic forecast, also released yesterday, the organisation painted a gloomier picture than expected.

Kate Barker, the CBI's chief economic advisor, said: "We have sharply downgraded our forecasts for the next 18 months since May.

"We now expect economic growth over the next three quarters will almost grind to a halt in the UK.

"So we believe that an early cut in interest rates is vital to help prevent the economy slipping further than necessary, while still hitting the Government's inflation target. …