Stronger-than-expected retail sales in July raised hopes that Britain's double-dip recession might turn out to be shallower than initially expected.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported yesterday that retail sales volumes rose by 0.3 per cent over the month. City analysts had expected a small contraction.
The ONS also revised up its volume figures for June from a rise of 0.1 per cent to 0.8 per cent.
Last month the ONS estimated that UK GDP contracted by 0.7 per cent in the second quarter of 2012, suggesting that Britain was in a steepening downturn.
But analysts said the latest retail output, combined with a better-than-expected construction and maufactuing performance in June, might see the quarter's figures revised up.