UK economy grows 0.8 percent in first quarter on strong services sector

Nathan Andrada – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

London, England, United Kingdom (4E) – The UK economy expanded by 0.8 percent in the first three months of this year, according to the latest official data. The growth marks the fifth straight quarter of gross domestic product (GDP) increase – the longest positive expansion since the financial crisis.

The GDP is a measure of a nation’s economic activity, which includes all the goods and services produced in a period.

The economy is now 0.6 percent smaller compared with its 2008 peak, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS’s initial growth reading for the quarter is a slight gain on the 0.7 percent posted for the final three months of 2013, and an increase of 3.1 percent on the year-earlier period. Many economists had been expecting the figure to be even higher, at 0.9 percent.

British manufacturing was one of the strongest performers recently, with output edging higher by 1.3 percent, according to the ONS, its strongest period for almost four years.

UK service sector, which includes everything from accountants to hotels and leisure, jumped by 0.9 percent, accounting for nearly all of the overall growth in the quarter.

Construction output expanded by just 0.3 percent as the segment was affected by the storms and high rainfall during the first two months of the year, the ONS said.

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