The economy grew more briskly than previously thought in 2014, helped by a surge in exports in the final quarter, the Office for National Statistics said yesterday.
The statistics agency revised up growth last year from 2.6 per cent to 2.8 per cent, mainly on the back of a stronger performance in the first three months of 2014 when growth was revised up from 0.7 per cent to 0.9 per cent.
There was also stronger GDP growth in the final quarter of 2014, which was revised up from 0.5 per cent to 0.6 per cent. Exports over those three months jumped by 4.6 per cent and net trade made an impressive 0.9 percentage point contribution to the overall expansion in output.
However, there was more gloom from business investment, which the ONS confirmed fell by 0.9 per cent in the final quarter of the year.
The ONS also confirmed that construction output went backwards at the end of last year, falling by 2.2 per cent in the three months to December. Virtually all of the GDP growth came, once again, from the services sector.
Economists also highlighted separate news from the ONS that the dominant service sector output fell by 0.2 per cent in January, below expectations of a 0.3 per cent increase. “Unless there is a sharp bounce back, Q1  growth could conceivably be around half its 2014 Q4 rate. This is not good news ahead of the May election,” said Simon Wells, of HSBC.
The trade deficit narrowed to £9.6bn, down from £13.2bn in the previous quarter. But the overall current account deficit – including net overseas income – for 2014 was confirmed as £97.9bn, equal to 5.5 per cent of GDP and the largest annual deficit since records began in 1948.Reuse content