British economy shrinks by shock 0.5% in fourth quarter

25th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain's economy shrank by a shock 0.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, dashing expectations for growth, as harsh wintry weather sparked the first contraction since 2009, data showed Tuesday.

Gross domestic product (GDP) declined by 0.5 percent in the three months to December, after expansion of 0.7 percent in the third quarter, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement giving its initial estimate.

That was the first drop since the third quarter of 2009 and confounded expectations for modest growth of 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter, according to analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires

"The change in GDP in the fourth quarter was clearly affected by the extremely bad weather in December last year," the ONS added.

"The disruption caused by the bad weather in December is likely to have contributed to most of the 0.5-percent decline, that is, if there had been no disruption, GDP would be showing a flattish picture rather than declining by 0.5 percent.

"We should emphasise that this assessment of the effect of the bad weather is the best we can make it at this stage, but is still inevitably uncertain."

© 2011 AFP

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