Economy grows following Brexit stockpiling boost

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The British economy grew marginally ahead of expectations over the three months to February, helped by businesses stockpiling ahead of Brexit.

Gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 0.3% in the period between December and February compared with the previous quarter, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In February, the UK economy grew by 0.2% versus January’s 0.5% print.

Both measures were ahead of economists’ expectations, who had pencilled in zero growth for February and 0.2% for the three-month period.

Head of GDP at the ONS Rob Kent-Smith said: “GDP growth remained modest in the latest three months. Services again drove the economy, with a continued strong performance in IT.

“Manufacturing also continued to recover after weakness at the end of last year with the often-erratic pharmaceutical industry, chemicals and alcohol performing well in recent months.”

The ONS cited data that showed a surge in manufacturing output in March was linked to manufacturers and firms hoarding goods in the run-up to what was supposed to be Brexit.

Companies stepped up production to build inventories in advance of March 29, Britain’s original Brexit day, before the Conservative Government asked the EU for an extension.

The manufacturing sector recorded 0.9% of growth in February and followed on from 1.1% the prior month.

Manufacturing output is now at its highest level since April 2008, driven by domestic demand.

It helped industrial production jump by 0.6% during the second month of the year.

The ONS data dump also showed that the construction sector eked out 0.4% growth while services grew just 0.1%.

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