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UK growth slows in quarter one

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UK economic growth slowed to 0.4% in the first quarter of the year, due to a decline in manufacturing and construction output, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The GDP figure for January to March was in line with economists’ forecasts but down from 0.6% the previous quarter.

GDP was 2.1% higher compared with the same quarter a year ago.

The services sector grew by 0.6% in quarter one. The other three main industrial groups in the economy decreased, with production falling by 0.4%, construction output by 0.9% and agriculture by 0.1%.

Ben Brettell, senior economist at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Two weeks ago the Bank of England said that concerns about the EU referendum had begun to affect the real economy, and many commentators will view today’s GDP figures as evidence to support this hypothesis.

“However, it’s important to remember this is only the first estimate of GDP, and doesn’t include factors like investment and trade, which would be most likely to be hit by referendum-related uncertainty. Indeed the preliminary estimate of GDP is based on less than half of the data which will ultimately be available. Revisions to today’s figures are likely in the coming months.”

Today’s figures mean Bank of England Governor Mark Carney is unlikely to be “dashing to raise rates” when the Monetary Policy Committee next meets on Thursday 12 May, says Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

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