UK economy grows by 0.6% in fourth quarter

Strong consumer spending helped the UK’s economy to grow faster than expected at the end of last year.

The economy grew by 0.6% in the October-to-December period, the same rate as in the previous two quarters, according to an initial estimate from the Office for National Statistics.

The figure indicates that the feared economic slowdown following the Brexit vote has not materialised.

For 2016 as whole, the economy grew by 2%, down from 2.2% in 2015.

“Strong consumer spending supported the expansion of the dominant services sector,” said ONS statistician Darren Morgan.

“Although manufacturing bounced back from a weaker third quarter – both it and construction remained broadly unchanged over the year as a whole.”

The quarterly growth figure was slightly better than the 0.5% rate most economists had expected.

The dominant services sector – which accounts for about three-quarters of the UK economy – grew by by 0.8% in the quarter, helped by growth in the distribution, hotels and restaurant industry.

Retail sales and travel agencies also supported growth in this sector, the ONS said.

The figures also showed that the construction industry grew by 0.1% and agriculture by 0.4%, while industrial production was unchanged.

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