The good news? The UK economy grew 0.8% in the first three months of this year, up from 0.7% the previous quarter and 3.1% higher than last year. It’s the fifth consecutive quarter of expansion, the longest period of growth since Lehman Brothers fell off a cliff in 2008.
The bad news? Economists had been expecting growth of 0.9%. The economy is also still 0.6% below its peak, although that’s definitely light at the end of a very long tunnel after the UK lost 7.2% of its output in the largest slump since World War II.
Services grew 0.9%, accounting for 0.7% of the growth, and production expanded 0.8%. However, construction ticked up just 0.3% and agriculture fell 0.7%, as rain washed out building sites and drowned fields. We don’t grow all that much any more of course, so no need to subsidise tractors just yet.
It’s worth pointing out the 0.8% figure is currently only based on 44% actual data, with the rest still forecasts, according to the Office for National Statistics. The means the figure is still subject to revisions for the next couple of months. Growth for the whole of 2013 got revised down 0.1% twice, for example, ending up at 1.7%. Basically, don’t hang your hat on the precise percentage just yet.