Britain surprises with 0.6% growth in quarter: official data

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Britain's economy grew by a higher-than-expected 0.6 percent in the third quarter, a revised estimate from the Office for National Statistics showed on Thursday.

Analysts had expected no change to the earlier forecast putting British gross domestic product growth at 0.5 percent in the third quarter from July to September, compared with the second quarter.

The ONS added in a statement that British GDP grew by 0.5 percent in the third quarter compared with the equivalent period in 2010, unrevised from its earlier estimate in November.

It also noted that second quarter GDP was in fact flat after previously stating that it had expanded by 0.1 percent.

"GDP growth in recent quarters continues to point towards a rather fragile economic picture" for Britain, the ONS said in its statement.

"During the nine quarters of the recovery (since recession), the economy has gained just over half of the output lost during the five quarters of contraction."

The ONS noted that the services sector continued to support GDP growth, expanding by 0.5 percent in the third quarter.

"However, this growth has been concentrated in just a few sub-sectors, primarily scientific administration and support, finance and insurance activities, education and health.

"Growth in a number of sectors that are orientated towards the household sector, such as wholesale and retail, real estate and other services, are relatively weak by comparison," it added.

The British government last month slashed its growth outlook, blaming the impact of the eurozone debt crisis.

Finance minister George Osborne has insisted however that there will be no let-up in the coalition's plans to axe Britain's huge deficit and steer clear of the global debt storm.

Britain's economy is set to grow by just 0.7 percent next year, about a quarter of the previous official government forecast of 2.5 percent given in March.

© 2011 AFP

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