New figures show economic boost in the UK

The UK made a faster-than-expected climb out of recession in the final three months of 2009 with growth of 0.3%, official figures showed today.

The UK made a faster-than-expected climb out of recession in the final three months of 2009 with growth of 0.3%, official figures showed today.

The figure is an improvement on the meagre 0.1% advance shown by the Official for National Statistics’ (ONS) first estimate a month ago and ahead of the 0.2% expected by markets.

The rare good news for the beleaguered economy came after output from the UK’s services and manufacturing sectors was revised upwards.

The latest output figure - based on more than three-quarters of the data - confirms suspicions among many commentators that earlier estimates were underestimating the performance of the economy.

It will also ease the political pressure on the Government over its stewardship of the UK through recession as a general election looms.

The UK’s powerhouse services sector – which accounts for 75% of output - performed much more strongly than first thought in the final quarter of 2009 with growth revised up from 0.1% to 0.5%. This is the strongest growth for services since before the recession began in the first three months of 2008.

Output from production industries was lifted from 0.1% to 0.4% with manufacturing registering growth of 0.8% – twice as fast as previously thought.

This was down to much stronger growth in sectors such as engineering, transport, metals and chemicals.

Figures for household spending provided with today’s figures also hinted at an upturn in consumer spending as the impact of record low interest rates and VAT cuts worked through the economy.

Household expenditure rose by 0.4% over the quarter – the biggest rise since the opening three months of 2008.

Although the recovery is stronger than first estimated on today’s figures, revisions to previous quarters show that the recession was the deepest on record, with a 6.2% peak-to-trough slump exceeding the 6% fall seen 30 years ago in the early years of Margaret Thatcher’s leadership.

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