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UK Economy Returns To Growth

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Official data has shown that the British economy returned to growth in early 2024, after slipping into a shallow recession in the latter half of 2023. British Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 0.2% on a monthly basis in January, buoyed by a rebound in retail trade and home construction—following a 0.1% decline in December, in line with economists’ expectations in a Reuters poll. However, it’s premature to determine whether the economy has fully emerged from recession.

GDP contracted by 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2023 and by 0.1% in the preceding quarter, aligning with the widely used technical definition of recession in Europe.

The British economy has been sluggish since its initial recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, suffering from rising energy import costs due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and more recently due to interest rate hikes by the Bank of England.

Wednesday’s data showed that GDP in January was down 0.3% from the previous year and contracted by 0.1% in the three months to January, both in line with economists’ expectations. British Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt said, “While the past few years have been tough, today’s numbers show that we are making progress in growing the economy.”

The government’s Budget Responsibility Office forecasted expansion of 0.8% in 2024, higher than the Bank of England’s estimate of around 0.25% growth.

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