Economic growth exceeds forecasts

The UK economy grew by 0.5% from October to December 2017, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

This surpassed the Office for Budget Responsibility's prediction of 0.4% growth for the quarter.

Growth was particularly strong in the services sector, which expanded by 0.6% - a greater increase than its 0.4% rise in quarter Q3 2017.

Production also grew by 0.6% in quarter Q4 2017, reaching an annual growth of 2%, largely due to strong performance in the manufacturing sector.

Despite this upturn, the ONS warned that "the underlying picture is of slower and uneven growth".

Many consumer-focused industries saw slower growth in the quarter, and construction output fell by 1%.

In 2017 as a whole, the economy grew by 1.8%, compared to 1.9% in 2016.

Ian Kernohan, economist at Royal London, said:

"While annual growth is still somewhat below the long-term average for the UK, it is notably stronger than predictions made in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit referendum.

"Manufacturing output has shown a strong recovery, however, it is the dominant services sector which remains the main driver of growth in the UK economy."

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