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Economy slows as service sector weakens

Economic growth slowed in the first three months of 2017 to 0.3 per cent, according to official figures.

The slowdown was mainly down to the services sector, where growth fell from 0.8 per cent between October and December to 0.3 per cent.

There were falls in several consumer-facing industries, including retail and accommodation, partly due to prices increasing more than spending, the Office for National Statistics said.

Production grew by 0.3 per cent, with a 0.5 per cent increase in manufacturing largely thanks to higher motor vehicle output.

Elsewhere, construction grew by 0.2 per cent and agriculture grew by 0.3 per cent.

GDP per head is estimated to have increased by 0.1 per cent in Q1.

Commenting on the figures, Rain Newton-Smith, chief economist at the Confederation of British Industry, said: “GDP growth has eased compared to the second half of last year, with weakness particularly apparent in consumer-facing services.

“This chimes with signs that some of the recent supports to growth are softening. In particular, real wage growth has deteriorated, as inflation is now running up against earnings growth. With inflation set to continue rising, the pressure on household incomes will weigh on consumer spending.”

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