Builders lighten UK economic gloom

The UK's post-Olympic hangover is likely to be less painful than first feared this week, as the latest figures on the economy's performance at the end of 2012 gives some respite for the Chancellor.

The Office for National Statistics's first estimate was a worse than expected 0.3 per cent dip between October and December, leaving the economy in reverse for four of the last five quarters.

The main culprit behind the slide was a 1.8 per cent slump in industrial production, driven largely by delays to maintenance at the Elgin-Franklin, the UK's largest North Sea oil field. The economy was also dragged back by an absence of Olympic ticket revenue, which were counted in the third quarter figures.

But experts said the chances of an upward revision in the second estimater due on Wednesday had risen due to a far stronger performance from Britain's building industry than initially thought in the final three months of 2012.

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