UK loses G7 ‘fastest growing’ title despite Q4 growth

Growth revised downward
Growth revised downward

Britain’s economy picked up speed in the final three months of last year, but a downward annual revision has lost the UK its title as the fastest growing country in the G7.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 0.7% in its second estimate of fourth quarter growth, which is up 0.1 percentage points from initial readings of 0.6%.

Economists had been expecting no revision.

However, annual growth for 2016 has been revised down by 0.2% to 1.8% - a slight slowdown from 2.2% in 2015.

It puts the UK behind Germany which recorded a 1.9% rise in annual GDP, and means the UK is no longer the fastest growing economy among G7 members, which includes the US, Canada and Japan.

The pound lost ground following the news, to trade 0.35% lower against the US dollar at 1.242. Against the euro, sterling was flat at 1.183.

ONS head of GDP Darren Morgan said: “The economy grew slightly more in the last three months of 2016 than previously thought, mainly due to a stronger performance from manufacturing.

“Overall, the dominant services sector continued to grow steadily, due in part to continued growth in consumer spending, although retail showed some signs of weakness in the last couple of months of 2016, which has continued into January 2017.”

The fourth quarter increase was driven by a 1.2% rise in manufacturing output, and supported by a 0.8% increase in the service industry, marking its 16th consecutive quarter of growth.

Household spending grew by 0.7% in the final quarter - higher than the 0.6% average for quarter-on-quarter growth seen since the start of 2013 - helped by a 1.2% rise in retail sales.