UK data show economy a bit weaker than expected: Carney

MARGATE, England (Reuters) - Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said economic data published earlier on Thursday reflected how underlying growth was a bit weaker than the central bank had expected.

FILE PHOTO: Mark Carney the Governor of the Bank of England speaks at the bank's quarterly Inflation Report Press Conference in London, Britain August 1, 2019. Chris J Ratcliffe/Pool via REUTERS

Carney said at the unveiling of Britain’s new 20-pound banknote that BoE had forecast growth of 0.2% in the third quarter.

“The underlying pace of growth is a bit softer than that, and today’s data... is consistent with that picture,” he said.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics suggested the economy did not fall into recession before the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline with gross domestic product in the three months to August 0.3% higher than in the previous three months.

But in the month of August alone, GDP fell by 0.1%.

Carney said sterling had been more volatile than usual, reflecting the wide range of potential Brexit outcomes.

“In the more dramatic potential Brexit outcomes, we will in my view look to do whatever we can to support growth,” he said.

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Carney has previously said he expects the BoE will need to cut interest rates if Britain’s economy is hit with the shock of a no-deal Brexit.

Carney also sought to play down speculation about the possibility that he will stay on beyond his scheduled Jan. 31 departure date from the British central bank.

He told reporters that there was no need to speculate about a possible new extension to his time at the BoE and there was no reason why the question of him staying on longer would be asked.

British finance minister Sajid Javid said earlier this week that the process for choosing Carney’s successor in the autumn was on schedule, responding to media reports that the Brexit crisis might lead to a delay in the appointment.

Reporting by Andy Bruce; Writing by William Schomberg