Britain’s economy grew 0.2 percent during the first quarter of the year, official statisticians said on Friday, extending the nation’s recovery from recession but disappointing expectations of a stronger rise.
The Office for National Statistics said growth continued in the January to March quarter compared with the previous three months, thanks mostly to activity in business services and finance, but the rate slowed from the 0.4 percent recorded in the final quarter of last year, when Britain broke out of an 18—month recession.
The economy has been the biggest issue in the campaign leading up to Britain’s national election, now less than two weeks away.
Friday’s report is the first estimate of first quarter GDP, and the figure may be revised as statisticians work through more data on the economy’s performance. The first estimate of fourth quarter growth, for instance, was 0.1 percent but the final figure was 0.4 percent.
The report, however, is the last snapshot of the economy before the May 6 vote.
The GDP estimate comes two days after the statistics office disclosed that Britain’s unemployment rate had risen to 8 percent in the December—February quarter, the highest figure in 16 years.
On Thursday, official data confirmed that Britain closed out its fiscal year on April 5 with record borrowing of 152.84 billion pounds ($235.9 billion), or 10.9 percent of gross domestic product.
Although that was better than the 167 billion pounds forecast by the government, it was way above the 86.91 billion pounds deficit recorded in 2008/09.
Business services and finances, the dominant sector of the U.K. economy, were the biggest contributor to first—quarter growth, the ONS said. The smaller manufacturing sector posted a gain of 0.7 percent.
Keywords: Growth slowdown,