[LONDON] The services sector that forms the bulk of Britain's economy grew steadily in the three months to November, but companies are growing less optimistic about the outlook, a survey published on Tuesday showed.
The Confederation of British Industry's quarterly survey revealed continued growth in profits and increased employment. It also showed expenditure on staff training at its highest level in 15 years, possibly reflecting skill shortages ahead.
Britain's economy looks set to slow in the fourth quarter of 2014, but the pace of growth is expected to remain robust. "Growth across the services sector is expected to continue into the New Year," said Rain Newton-Smith, director for economics at the CBI. "But skills shortages are starting to bite, putting more of a break on investment and future growth in consumer services. Therefore the spending rise in training in the sector is particularly encouraging." The CBI said its survey showed selling price inflation reached its highest rate since 2010 in consumer services but prices fell in business and professional services and are expected to remain flat in the coming months.
Differences have grown among policymakers at the Bank of England about whether growth might start to pressure inflation soon, minutes of their latest meeting showed last week.
Despite expectations for robust growth in early 2015, the CBI survey showed optimism among firms falling at its fastest rate since early 2013, with only three of nine sub-sectors anticipating increasing growth in the next quarter.
The survey covered 191 companies and was conducted between Oct 24 and Nov 12.