UK economy flat-lines as election nears

(SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, BORIS JOHNSON, SAYING:

"Do you want to take this country forward? Get Brexit done. Get moving again ...."

Pre-election promises from Boris Johnson ....

But any pledge to reenergise an ailing British economy is an increasingly tall order.

UK growth in the three months to October flatlined when compared to the previous three months.

Over the year, it slipped - at 0.7 per cent - to its slowest pace in nearly seven years.

Tuesday's (December 10) data also gave a dismal snapshot of industrial production - it fell 0.7 per cent in the same three month period ...

While the all-important services sector was at its weakest since June.

And - if anyone was looking to exports to bolster confidence - Britain's goods trade deficit widened to a much higher-than-expected 14 and a half billion pounds in October.

The one winner of the day: sterling.

It was cementing gains on bets that Prime Minister Johnson's governing Conservative Party will form the next government too.

But at just short of one dollar 32 it's still far below its pre-Brexit referendum peaks.

Analyst Jeremy Batstone-Carr:

SOUNDBITE (English) JEREMY BATSTONE-CARR, PROFESSOR OF GLOBAL FINANCE, UWE, SAYING:

"The reason for sterling's weakness on the global markets is because of the weakness of the economy. And, of course, because of that substantial trade deficit, which is not going to go away."

Britain's main opposition Labour Party is also promising to boost growth.

But the approach of a Brexit deadline and the global economic slowdown are seen as the broad backdrop to the weaker data.

The uncertainty likely to continue - whoever wins Thursday's (December 12) vote.