LONDON, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Britain's economic growth slowed to a crawl at the end of 2018 and the housing market is stalling, according to data published on Friday, less than three months before Brexit.
The country's Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index was 54.5 in December, down from 55.4 in November and the lowest level in nine months.
This was higher than the 50.4 recorded in November when it hit a 28-month low, and above the 50.7 reading economists were expecting. "Selling prices have now decreased in three of the past four months, with the latest reduction the most marked in nearly three years".
There was a drop in backlogs of work for the third month running, the longest period of decline since the summer of 2016.The survey points to weakest confidence since the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote, Markit said.Firms reported headwinds from political uncertainty and downbeat projections for 2019 from clients.Survey respondents said tight labor conditions made it hard to recruit skilled staff; the increase in staffing levels was limited, and efforts to cut costs led to softer employment growth in the industry.An index of prices charged accelerated to the highest rate of inflation since June, mainly due to an increase in staff costs.
Growth in manufacturing and services slowed more than initially reported last month, weighed down by public protests in France, Germany's continued struggles in the vehicle industry and renewed weakness in Italy.
The rate of new business growth dropped in December for the third consecutive month, the report said.
Services and Composite PMIs for the two largest euro zone economies, Germany and France, also declined in December, coming below all forecasts in a Reuters poll.
British manufacturers received a "short-lived" boost in December as they ramped up stockpiling ahead of the UK's exit from the world's biggest trading bloc.
The U.S. dollar rose on Wednesday as weak economic data from some major economies caused concerns over global growth, sparking demand for safe havens, Xinhua reports.
Employment growth in the services sector was softer in December as firms aimed to cut costs.
Input prices continued to rise in December, albeit at a weaker pace than in the past few months.
Higher wages were cited as a key factor leading to rising input costs at service providers in December. The pace of inflation fell to an 11-month low. Compared with a year earlier, prices were up just 0.5 percent compared with a 1.9 percent rise in the year to November. The balance of firms forecasting an expansion in their output volumes was the least positive seen since February 2016.