Meh: UK GDP growth unchanged for the fourth quarter of 2015

 
Emma Haslett
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Shrug: GDP growth was flat on the previous quarter (Source: Getty)

UK GDP growth was 0.5 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year compared with the same period in 2014, according to a second estimate by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) - bang on expectations, and the same as previous estimates.

The ONS said that while there had been speculation the figure could be revised down, the buoyancy of the services sector - which increased 2.1 per cent in December, compared with the same month last year - had offset "relative sluggishness" in the rest of the economy.

The news comes just hours after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) became the latest organisation to warn of a downturn if the UK votes for a Brexit at the EU referendum in June.

In a report published last night, it said the UK must remail "vigilant to the challenges ahead", adding that uncertainty over the UK's future in the EU could weigh on investment.

"Uncertainty is bad in and of itself," said Christine Lagarde, the organisation's managing director, on CNN.

"No economic player likes uncertainty. They don't invest, they don't hire, they don't make decisions in times of uncertainty."

The pound fell to its lowest against the dollar in seven years earlier this week, after a raft of Conservative MPs - including Boris Johnson - backed the Leave campaign.

This morning's GDP figures caused it to edge slightly higher, up 0.02 per cent to $1.3935.

“As global markets remain volatile, today’s figures showing an unchanged rate of positive growth in the UK could be seen as the brighter part of an otherwise gloomy picture," said Dennis de Jong, managing director of UFX.com.

“Expansion remains at its lowest level for over two years and Mark Carney is likely to be strongly considering cutting interest rates to stimulate the economy.

“At the forefront of Britain’s headaches is the currency. After David Cameron confirmed that the EU referendum will be held in June, making the ‘Brexit’ a very real possibility, sterling hasn’t stopped shaking and could prove problematic for months to come.”

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