Wednesday 31 March 2021 9:20 am

UK GDP shoots up after worst year on record amid non-stop 'string of positive news'

The UK economy bounced back more strongly than first thought in the last six months of 2020, the Office for National Statistics said this morning.

GDP rose by 16.9 per cent and 1.3 per cent in the third and fourth quarters respectively.

An early estimate of one per cent growth for the period between October and December was exceeded.

GDP fell by 9.8 per cent in 2020, which was slightly less than an initial estimate of a 9.9 per cent drop but represents the biggest collapse in more than three centuries.

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Britain’s economy suffered the heaviest fall of all countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development except for Argentina and Spain last year, according to OECD data.

Deficit

The ONS also said Britain’s current account deficit widened to £26.3bn in the fourth quarter, almost double the shortfall in the third quarter.

The loss came as firms rushed to import goods before the UK’s trade relationship with the European Union changed on 1 January.

The deficit is a long-standing concern for investors as it leaves Britain reliant on foreign inflows of cash.

Read more: Before the Bell: UK led vaccine battle this quarter but European markets outperformed

Rupert Thompson, chief investment officer at wealth management firm Kingswood, said the gain reflects a string of positive UK economic news.

“This follows the recent stronger than expected numbers for business confidence which suggests the contraction in the first quarter will be smaller than first feared.

“Meanwhile, the fast vaccine rollout has bolstered hopes of a rapid rebound over coming months.”

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