UK growth unexpectedly revised up by 0.4%

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The Independent Online

Britain's economy came out of an 18-month recession in the fourth quarter of last year with more momentum than expected, official data showed on Tuesday.

The Office for National Statistics said the economy grew 0.4 percent in the last three months of 2009, the first quarter of growth since the first quarter of 2008 and above analysts expectations for an unrevised reading of +0.3 percent.

On the year, GDP contracted by 3.1 percent, less than the 3.3 percent previously reported.

The statistics office said the upward revision was due to a combination of higher services, construction and agriculture output.

The peak to trough fall in output during the recession remained at 6.2 percent, the biggest since comparable records began.

The figures will provide some cheer to Britain's Labour government, facing potential defeat in an election expected on May 6. However, the figures are unlikely to change expectations that the recovery will be sluggish and monetary policy will remain loose for some time to come.

Separate figures showed Britain's current account deficit narrowed more than expected over the quarter to 1.684 billion pounds from 5.912 billion pounds, the lowest since the first quarter of 2008.