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UK GDP grows at slowest pace in a year

Britain’s economy slowed more than previously thought in the first three months of 2017 as rising inflation boosted by last year’s Brexit vote took a toll on household spending, official figures showed on Thursday.

Just two weeks before Britons go to the polls in an early election called by Prime Minister Theresa May, the Office for National Statistics said Britain’s economy expanded at its slowest rate in a year in the three months to the end of March.

Gross domestic product grew by just 0.2 percent compared with an earlier estimate of 0.3 percent, the ONS said.

Most economists polled had forecast the rate of growth would stay unchanged, which already marked a steep slowdown from the rapid 0.7 percent pace achieved in the final three months of 2016.

Year-on-year growth in early 2017 fell to 2.0 percent from an initial estimate of 2.1 percent growth.

After adjusting for inflation, household spending in the first quarter of 2017 rose by just 0.3 percent, its smallest amount since the final three months of 2014.

Britain’s economy grew 1.8 percent last year, one of the fastest rates among the world’s seven largest advanced economies.

But the economy relied heavily on consumer spending, which this year has come under increased pressure from rising inflation as stores push up prices in response to sterling’s sharp fall after the June 2016 Brexit vote.

British election campaigning is on hold after Monday’s suicide bomb attack in Manchester, but previously Prime Minister May had highlighted Britain’s record-high employment level while campaigning.

 

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