UK economy grew in February as firms prepared for lockdown easing

[LONDON] Britain's economy grew by 0.4 per cent in February from January as companies got ready for the lifting of a third coronavirus lockdown, official data showed on Tuesday.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected growth of 0.6 per cent.

But the data also showed that the fall in gross domestic product in January was not as severe as previously estimated, down by 2.2 per cent compared with the initial reading of a 2.9 per cent drop.

There were signs that trade between Britain and the European Union (EU) partially recovered in February after a hit in January, the first month of the new post-Brexit trade relationship.

The Office for National Statistics said the value of goods exports to the EU, excluding non-monetary gold and precious metals, rose by a monthly 47 per cent in February to £11.6 billion (S$21.4 billion), while goods imports excluding non-monetary gold were up 7 per cent.

Global goods exports were still 18 per cent lower than a year earlier.

Britain's economy shrank by almost 10 per cent last year, its biggest slump in more than three centuries and a more severe fall than in most European economies, as the country was battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

But a fast rollout of Covid-19 vaccines has raised the prospect of a bounce-back this year and in 2022.

Non-essential shops and outdoor hospitality venues reopened on Monday and Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes to relax most coronavirus restrictions before the end of June.


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