Red faces at ONS on economy

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Arithmetical gremlins at the Office of National Statistics yesterday briefly raised the prospect of a considerable upward revision to Britain's lacklustre second-quarter economic growth numbers.

But figures showing 2.3 per cent growth in construction industry output in the second quarter – a big leap on the 0.5 per cent estimate in the recent GDP calculations – were revised back down to 0.5 per cent when an error was spotted.

An embarrassed ONS blamed an "arithmetical error" in the late stages of its calculations.

And by late afternoon, prospects of a major GDP upgrade faded as the bureau published a corrected version, with construction output in line at 0.5 per cent quarter-on-quarter growth.

"There will be no revision to the preliminary GDP estimates next month from construction, whatever happens in other sectors," an ONS spokesman said.