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UK economic growth slows to 0.4% in first quarter


The UK's economic growth slowed in the first quarter of the year, hit by a drop in manufacturing and construction output, official figures have shown.
Gross domestic product grew by 0.4% between January and March, down from 0.6% in the fourth quarter, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
On an annual basis, growth was 2.1%.
The 0.4% rate was in line with economists' expectations, and marks the 13th consecutive quarter of positive growth for the UK.
Part of the slowdown was due to a sharp fall in construction output, which dropped 0.9% in the first quarter. Production output declined by 0.4%.
The service sector, the biggest part of the economy, grew by 0.6%
"Services continue to underpin the economy but other sectors have shown falling output this quarter," said ONS chief economist Joe Grice.
This is the first estimate of economic growth for the period, using less than half the data that will be used for the final estimate.
The Bank of England warned earlier this month that uncertainty due to the EU referendum could hurt growth in the first half of this year.
Pantheon Macroeconomics chief UK economist Saumuel Tombs said the slowdown in the first quarter "likely marks the end of the UK economy's outperformance relative to other G7 economies".
Mr Tombs said the UK's economy had been steadily losing pace since 2014 "suggesting that Brexit concerns are only partly to blame for the weakness of first quarter GDP".
"The EU referendum cannot be blamed for all of the economy's ills," he added.
But Capital Economics UK economist Ruth Miller said she expected the slowdown to be temporary.
"Many of the factors likely to be to blame for the first quarter's weakness should prove short-lived. We would not be surprised if growth were to subsequently accelerate in the second half of the year, putting the economy back on track," she added.