U.K. recovery gains steam with 0.6% growth in quarter

London - The British economy grew by 0.6 percent in the second quarter compared with the previous three month period, official figures showed Thursday in the latest sign that Europe's third largest economy is on a firmer footing.

The increase in the country's annual gross domestic product, as reported by the Office for National Statistics, was double the previous quarter's rate but in line with market expectations. Services, agriculture, manufacturing and construction industries all contributed to the quarterly rise.

Despite the increase, the U.K. economy is still smaller than it was before the deepest recession since World War II started in 2008 following an international financial crisis that had its roots in bad banking practices around the world.

Despite the quarterly rise, the British economy, Europe's third-biggest behind Germany and France, is still around 3.3 percent smaller than at its peak in the first three months of 2008.

Still, the increase will foster hopes that the U.K. economy can now post sustained increases in outputs following a three-year period when it largely flat-lined despite record low interest rates and a big stimulus program from the Bank of England.

The coalition government that was formed after the 2010 general election has made deficit-reduction the primary focus of its goals but the austerity measures that have been pursued have weighed on economic activity. The next election is expected in May 2015.

"Britain is on the mend, but we've got to stick with the plan because there's still a long way to go," British finance minister George Osborne told Sky News.

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