June 1, 2019 / 11:21 PM / 5 months ago

UK private sector reports sluggish underlying growth: CBI

FILE PHOTO: A general view of the Canary Wharf financial district in London, Britain October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s private sector reported sluggish underlying growth last month as Brexit uncertainty continues to weigh on many businesses, the Confederation of British Industry said on Sunday.

Britain’s economy grew solidly in the first three months of this year, according to official data, boosted in part by factories stockpiling raw materials ahead of a Brexit that failed to come as planned on March 29.

But some business surveys have pointed to weakness since, and the Bank of England has forecast a second-quarter slowdown as the boost from stockpiling fades.

The CBI said its monthly growth indicator sank to -1 for May from zero in April.

“Private sector activity remains stuck in neutral, with conditions in the service sector notably weak,” said CBI economist Alpesh Paleja. “Businesses continue to cite the ongoing drag from Brexit uncertainty, which is holding back key projects, pipelines of work and investment.”

Last week, the CBI wrote to Conservative lawmakers competing to succeed Theresa May as prime minister, urging them to avoid a no-deal Brexit, for which it said the “vast majority” of businesses were unable to prepare.

Reporting by David Milliken; editing by Stephen Addison

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