Britain's economy picked up slightly in the last three months of 2015 – but gross domestic product (GDP) growth fell sharply on an annual basis, figures published this morning showed.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said UK GDP rose 0.5 per cent in the fourth quarter, in line with economists' expectations, and up from 0.4 per cent in the previous quarter.
The services sector swelled 0.7 per cent, while agriculture added 0.6 per cent. However, production fell 0.2 per cent and construction output shrank 0.1 per cent.
"Growth continues to be driven by the UK's dominant services sector, while the production and construction sectors shrank slightly in the fourth quarter," Joe Grice, chief economist at the ONS, said.
Annual GDP growth moderated to 1.9 per cent in the fourth quarter, from 2.1 per cent in the three months to September. For 2015 as a whole, GDP growth was 2.2 per cent, down from 2.9 per cent in 2014.
Economists warned that the weaker growth trend was likely to continue into 2016, due to a number of headwinds facing the UK economy.
"The tighter stance of fiscal policy, sterling’s continued uncompetitiveness and the lack of slack in the labour market will all impede growth … in 2016," Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said.
"Uncertainty over ‘Brexit’, weak overseas growth and financial market volatility are all creating an unsettling business environment," Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, said.