United Kingdom economy in weakest growth since 2012

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While many thought the so-called Beast from the East would have hit Britain's economy hardest, official figures showed that recent snowfalls had a relatively small effect on growth.

The weak growth was driven by a sharp fall in construction output and a sluggish manufacturing sector, while growth in services also slowed.

This follows growth of 0.5% in the last quarter of 2017 and was below expectations, with analysts forecasting the economy to grow by 0.3%.

In year-on-year terms, growth slowed to 1.2pc from 1.4pc, its weakest since the second quarter of 2012 and a rate likely to keep Britain lagging behind its worldwide peers.

"While the snow had some impact on the economy, particularly in construction and some areas of retail, its overall effect was limited, with the bad weather actually boosting energy supplies and online sales".

And in the face of Brexit and an investment slump, recent Survation polling for the GMB union has shown that more than half of those questioned expect the United Kingdom to slip into recession within the next two years - hardly a ringing endorsement of the Tory economic strategy.

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He said: "The news casts further doubt over a May interest rate rise". The alarming slowdown will cause a major headache for the Bank of England who were as recently as last week widely expected to raise rates once more in May.

Markets are now pricing in a 25% chance following the annoucement today. The country's economy only expanded by 0.1%, as opposed to the 0.4% in the previous quarter.

The ONS stated services industries were the largest contributors to GDP growth, increasing 0.3%, however the longer-term trend shows a weakening in services growth.

The pound fell as low as $1.3748 against the dollar, weaker by more than one percent, after data showed Britain's economy grew at its weakest pace since the fourth quarter of 2012.

It comes amid a squeeze on consumer finances from higher inflation, triggered by the Brexit-induced collapse in the pound, and slow wage growth.

The Institute of Directors, an organisation representing senior business leaders, stated that uncertainty over Brexit was restraining growth, while Philip Hammond, the UK's Chancellor of the Exchequer, laid the blame at the feet of the bad weather. "The 0.1% quarterly rise was below the consensus estimate and the MPC's forecast of 0.3%", Paul Hollingsworth, a senior United Kingdom economist at Capital Economics said in an email.