Sunday, 28 November 2021

UK economy, gearing up for recovery, grows more than expected in March

Photo: Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain s pandemic-battered economy grew more strongly than expected in March as it gathered speed for a bounce-back from its coronavirus slump of 2020, official data showed.

The 2.1% growth from February was led by the reopening of schools which, alongside COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, pushed up activity in the public sector and by retailers as consumers spent some of their lockdown savings.

There was also a burst of work in the construction sector ahead of the expiry of a tax break for home-buyers.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected monthly growth of 1.3% for world s fifth-biggest economy.

“Businesses and the government alike will feel this data marks a turning point,” Ana Boata, head of macroeconomic research at trade credit insurer Euler Hermes, said.

“With the ongoing easing of restrictions, confirmed this week by the prime minister, there’s hope that this could be the start of a long hot summer for British businesses.”

Over the first three months of 2021, when the country was under a third lockdown, gross domestic product shrank by 1.5%, the Office for National Statistics said.

Although a less severe hit than initially feared, Samuel Tombs, an economist with Pantheon Macroeconomics, said it meant Britain almost certainly remained the laggard among the Group of Seven rich countries for the fourth quarter in a row.

However, British GDP looked on course grow by 5% in the April-to-June period “which should mean that the UK finally hands over the wooden spoon to another G7 economy.”

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