Our comprehensive assessment of the United Kingdom's operating environment and the outlook for its leading sectors are formed by bringing together a wealth of data on global markets that affect the United Kingdom, as well as the latest industry developments that could impact the United Kingdom's industries. This unique integrated approach has given us an impeccable track-record for predicting important shifts in the markets, ensuring you’re aware of the latest market opportunities and risks in the United Kingdom before your competitors.

Country Risk

United Kingdom Country Risk

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Core Views 

  • The UK economy is set to outperform most major developed states in 2014, and will continue to expand at a robust clip in 2015.

  • In light of positive structural economic reforms undertaken by the government, coupled with flexible monetary and exchange rate policies, we remain bullish on the long-term economic prospects for the UK relative to the eurozone over the longer term.

  • Despite numerous ructions between the ruling Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, we expect the coalition government to hold firm through to the next parliamentary election in 2015.

Major Forecast Changes 

  • We have revised up our 2014 real GDP forecast to 3.1% from 2.9% previously

Key Risks To Outlook 

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United Kingdom Industry Coverage (20)

Agribusiness

United Kingdom Agribusiness

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BMI View:   We favour the grain, livestock and dairy industries in the UK because of good export opportunities and a strong domestic market . The UK will post moderately strong growth in wheat production over the coming years, as we expect the grain to remain attractive in terms of prices relative to other crops. We believe that the dairy and sugar industries will increase production in the years following their respective production quota ends.

Key Forecasts

  • Wheat production growth to 2017/18: 19.5% to 1 5.9 mn tonnes. We expect UK wheat production to grow at a moderate pace due in part to wheat price outperformance relative to other grains, and ongoing demand from export destinations. However,...

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Autos

United Kingdom Autos

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BMI holds a bullish outlook for the UK passenger car market in 2014, on the back of improving consumer sentiment and pent-up demand in the market from a period of sustained declines. We forecast 10.4% growth in total vehicle sales, coming from a 13.5% increase in the commercial vehicle (CV) segment and a 9.9% rise in passenger vehicle sales.

In 2013, passenger car sales increased 12.8% on the back of modest improvements in private consumption, price cuts from car sellers, and pent-up demand. The majority of cars sold in the UK market in 2013 were due to private sales, rather than fleet and business consumers. We expect that trend to continue into 2014 as consumer confidence gains ground, although a modest resurgence in business confidence in the country will help boost sales from companies and fleet purchases. This provides upside risk to our bullish forecast.

BMI...

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Commercial Banking

United Kingdom Commercial Banking

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Commercial Banking Indicators 
Date Total assets Client loans Bond portfolio Other Liabilities and capital Capital Client deposits

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Defence & Security

United Kingdom Defence & Security

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BMI view s the decision to bring the second Queen-Elizabeth aircraft carrier into service in the Royal Navy as based on its ability to project power. BMI thinks that public austerity, from which the UK defence sector is not protected, is likely to leek over into the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) to be held in 2015

Our security risk ratings calculate the UK as having a high level of domestic security due to a low crime rate and a low risk of interstate conflict. While terrorism continues to be an issue, we view the government as determined to respond to the threat. At the end of August, the national terror level was raised to severe as a response to the so-called 'Islamic State', and the number of UK citizens travelling to Syria for...

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Food & Drink

United Kingdom Food & Drink

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BMI View: The UK economy is on track to be one of the fastest growing developed states in 2014, and certainly the fastest growing among the G7. Given the strength of the first and second quarter GDP readings, along with evidence from higher frequency data which suggest no let up in the rate of economic expansion, we have nudged up our full-year 2014 real GDP growth forecast to 3.1% from 2.9% previously. However, we continue to warn that without a recovery in fixed investment and real wages, the current growth burst will be unsustainable. In fact, most of the recent boom in consumer spending has been encouraged by rising property prices in London and other localised areas, which is unsustainable for retailers. As a result, we are cautious about growth in the food and drink area, especially in value terms as competition for value and consumer's more careful spending habits will limit potential for...

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Freight Transport

United Kingdom Freight Transport

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The UK Recovery Is On its Way

After stagnation in 2012 and weak growth in 2013, there are signs that the UK economy may in 2014 be shaking off its torpor and beginning to stretch its legs. Since around mid-2013, BMI has been detecting a change in sentiment, reflected principally in the services purchasing mangers' index (PMI) which in August 2013 soared to 60.5, close to the previous high recorded seven years earlier. Manufacturing PMI also improved. With something of a lag, the real economy showed signs of following the sentiment. UK GDP rose by 0.8% quarter-on-quarter (q-o-q) in Q313, the fastest pace of growth in three years. The hard-hit construction sector showed signs of recovery, reflecting public investment and the residential housing Help to Buy scheme. We have some reservations about how strong this recovery will be. We want to see further confirmation that the real economy is...

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Information Technology

United Kingdom Information Technology

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BMI View:   We have a positive medium term outlook against other developed markets, as t he UK government has sought in recent years to strengthen the UK's position as a hub for innovation, which has begun to yield some results in areas such as the app economy and there are promising signs for growth of   emerging technologies such as datacentres and cloud services and Big Data that are subject to government support. However , we continue to point to significant downside, as spending is squeezed by fiscal austerity measures, fragile business and consumer confidence and a decline in desktop and notebook shipments. Furthermore, the failure of high profile public IT projects in recent years has heightened public scepticism about further projects and resulted in...

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Infrastructure

United Kingdom Infrastructure

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BMI View : We have upgraded our forecasts for construction industry value growth in the UK to 4.3 % in 2014 and 3.5% in 2015, cementing the UK as   one of the most attractive market s for infrastructure and construction globally . The residential sector's recovery is driving construction industry growth , and although the government has been criticised for failing to push projects through, the UK has one of the strongest...

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Insurance

United Kingdom Insurance

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BMI View: We expect that premiums will rise slowly and steadily in both major segments of the UK's massive and highly sophisticated insurance segment. In the life segment, the changes that were announced by the government in the March 2014 Budget are a game changer. Total premiums will be boosted as leading life insurers take advantage of the multiple strengths to promote products and solutions other than annuities. We would stress, though, that sales of annuities will not fall to zero. In the non-life segment, the continuing growth of the UK and global economies, along with product innovation, mean that premiums should rise. We think that prices in the motor vehicle insurance sub-sector are near a floor. Indeed, in the latest results (for H114 and the first nine months of the year) it is easy to find examples of major non-life companies that have lifted prices for motor insurance.

Even if...

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Medical Devices

United Kingdom Medical Devices

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BMI Industry View :   The UK medical device market continues to be one of the strongest performers in the region , with growth of around 7% per annum forecast to 2018. This growth could however be tempered slightly if the Department of Health's efficiency programme is successfully implemented, as it aims to radically change the pricing, supply chain and procurement of medical devices in the NHS with the introduction of bar-coding and a single price comparison mechanism throughout the country amongst the initiatives on the cards. The programme will start with a couple of NHS trusts and the target for complete roll out is 2017.

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Metals

United Kingdom Metals

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BMI View:   After a strong year for the UK steel industry in both production and consumption in 2013, we are forecast ing   the recovery to remain on track, albeit at a slower pace going forward. In line with its European counterparts, the UK metals industry has been rocked by low profitability that has led to capacity reductions and disinvestment. However, the worst is probably over for the UK, as slightly stronger domestic demand and recent investment from international firms such as   Sahaviriya Steel Industries and Tata Steel...

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Oil & Gas

United Kingdom Oil & Gas

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BMI View: While we see a provisional uptick in oil and gas production in the UK from 2016/2017 onwards based on projects in the pipeline , the long-term trend remains one of stagnation given falling volumes from mature fields , a lack of significant new discoveries , falling oil prices and increasing explo ration, production and operational costs in the region at a time when oil companies are seeking Capex cuts. While shale gas presents upside risk to gas production, this should not kick-in before the...

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Petrochemicals

United Kingdom Petrochemicals

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British rubber and plastic production saw a growth surge in 2014 and with the domestic market likely to be buoyant in 2015 it is likely to hold up in the months ahead. However, BMI warns that the eurozone's woes are not yet over and combined with ongoing austerity measures will pose a significant risk to the petrochemicals outlook.

BMI estimates that chemicals output grew 3.8% y-o-y in 2014, while rubber and plastic production rose 11.9% as rapid growth in production was underway. The rebound came after petrochemicals underperformed compared to the rest of the industrial sector. Key end-use markets such as the construction and automotive sectors experienced strong growth in line with the overall economic recovery.

The positive performance was achieved in spite of some capacity cutbacks, including the closure of a 320,000tpa cracker and associated butadiene unit in...

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Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare

United Kingdom Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare

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BMI View: The pharmaceutical and healthcare markets of the United Kingdom are driven by government spending in the form of the National Health System (NHS) , which accounts for over 80% of total healthcare spending. With a higher prevalence of non-communicable diseases, coupled with an ageing population, the increased demand for healthcare may lead to the enforcement of cost - containment strategies and move ment away from expensive treatment options.

Headline Expenditure Projections

Pharmaceuticals: GBP24.53bn (USD38.01bn) in 2013 to GBP24.63bn (USD40.89bn) in 2014; +0.44% in local currency terms and +7.6% in US dollar terms.

Healthcare:...

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Power

United Kingdom Power

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BMI View:   The biggest risk to the UK power sector is the failure to mobilise investment into new capacity because of opaque and highly politicised energy policy.   While the UK's Energy Bill and the EMR   have been signed into law , and plans to establish a capacity mechanism are advancing, fears of a capacity crunch in the winter of 2014/2015 have resurfaced - highlighting the fragility of the UK's supply-demand balance and the need to stimulate investment in the power sector .

A failure to mobilise investment in new power generation capacity will remain the biggest threat to the UK...

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Real Estate

United Kingdom Real Estate

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BMI View:   T he UK commercial real estate market is well placed for further expansion over H214 and into 2015 as a strong economic rebound supports demand for office and retail space in particular. The industrial segment will remain the underperformer as export activity continues to flag. 

Falling unemployment and increased levels of household spending have provided support for rental rate growth in the two segments. While we expect the office segment and high quality retail space to outperform, rental growth in the industrial segment is expected to remain largely the same. This is because demand for manufacturing space has declined as the UK de-industrialises and a sluggish eurozone recover demands export demand. However, a lack of supply in logistics and other retail facilities means that rental rates for the industrial market are likely to...

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Renewables

United Kingdom Renewables

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BMI View: The confusion surrounding the UK's renewables energy agenda is likely to have a detrimental impact on investment levels into the sector. That said, compared to other well   developed renewable energy markets in Europe, the UK still presents investment opportunities for developers. We highlight the expanding offshore wind segment and distributed energy solutions (DES) as two such growth areas. The UK has pledged to derive 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020; with a government target for the power sector of 30% renewables share, owing to slower progress in the heat and transport sectors. However, the post-2020 agenda is looking less clear after the European Commission (EC) announcement of proposed EU 2030 climate and energy targets in late January 2014. It seems the EC has not set a binding renewable energy target on...

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Telecommunications

United Kingdom Telecommunications

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BMI View :   The UK telecoms market is mature , with a high penetration of all services, and a roll - out of next generation services including fibre and LTE services is in progress . As a result of its maturity the UK market has diminished opportunities for subscription growth, and operator strategies reflect this by increasingly focusing on value generation from subscriptions. In the mobile market this means operators are focused on rolling out LTE, with three networks operational from the end of August 2013, as well as VAS such as mobile advertising and payments. Meanwhile, in the fixed broadband sector, operators continue to target the...

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Tourism

United Kingdom Tourism

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BMI View: The UK tourism industry is set for a period of steady growth, with both inbound and outbound travel forecast to expand over the next five years due to favourable domestic economic circumstances. This expansion in travel will fuel growth in tourism-related receipts and industry value, though we do not expect to see a spate of hotel building in this already crowded marketplace. The UK will continue to build on its reputation as a global travel destination over the next four years with a series of infrastructure investments in air and rail travel such as expansions to Luton, Manchester and Birmingham airports as well as long-term rail projects including the HS2 high speed rail line between London and Birmingham.

We have reduced our expectations for growth in arrivals to the UK in light of flatter than expected economic growth in the eurozone, especially in many of the UK's key source...

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Water

United Kingdom Water

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BMI View: The four nations of the UK have top of the range water sectors. Infrastructure and technology are among the best in Europe and those responsible for the sectors appear keen to maintain the high standards and develop the sectors for the future. In England and Wales this task falls to private companies with both sectors being fully privatised. This has resulted in consistent investment and an extremely high standard of service, but has also meant that tariffs have slowly crept up as profits are targeted. In Scotland and Northern Ireland the water sectors are owned and managed by the government resulting in low tariffs for the consumers but more limited investment and therefore less scope for development and improvement. Northern Ireland residents actually receive free water as the sector is completely subsidised by the government.

In England and Wales regulation of the water sector is the responsibility of...

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