UK economy clawed back ground in February with 0.4% growth

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UK economy clawed back ground in February with construction sector driving 0.4% growth despite brutal lockdown

The UK economy grew by 0.4 per cent in February according to latest figuresThe expansion came despite the brutal Covid lockdown rules still being in forceGDP is still around 8 per cent lower than before the pandemic caused chaos 

By James Tapsfield, Political Editor For Mailonline

Published: 02:10 EDT, 13 April 2021 | Updated: 02:55 EDT, 13 April 2021

The UK economy clawed back ground in February with 0.4 per cent growth despite the brutal lockdown in force.

The official figures marked a recovery from the grim 2.2 per cent drop the previous month, with the construction sector driving the improvement.

However, the rebound was slightly below the expectations of some economists. And GDP is still around 8 per cent below the level it reached before coronavirus sent the world spiralling into chaos. 

Meanwhile, separate trade figures suggested exports to the EU have risen sharply after their record fall in January, when the Brexit transition period ended.    

An ONS spokesman said: 'The economy showed some improvement in February after the large falls seen at the start of the year but remains around 8 per cent below its pre-pandemic level.

The official figures marked a recovery from the grim 2.2 per cent drop the previous month, with the construction sector driving the improvement

'Wholesalers and retailers both saw sales pick up a little, while manufacturing improved with car producers experiencing a partial recovery from a poor January.

'Construction grew strongly after revised figures showed they had struggled in the last couple of months.

'Exports to the EU recovered significantly from their January fall, though still remain below 2020 levels. However, imports from the EU are yet to significantly rebound, with a number of issues hampering trade.'

The crucial service sector grew by 0.2 per cent in February, as wholesale and retail trade sales picked up slightly. 

Manufacturing expanded by 1.3 per cent - but construction saw the biggest boost at 1.6 per cent.

The previous estimates of a 2.9 per cent fall in output in January were revised upwards, with the drop now thought to be 2.2 per cent. 

Overall GDP in February was still 7.8 per cent below the level 12 months before. 

Trade figures from the ONS showed exports of goods to the EU partially rebounded, increasing £3.7billion - or 46.6 per cent - after a record fall of £5.7billion in January. 

Rory Macqueen, principal economist at the NIESR think-tank, said: 'Despite little change in restrictions, a return to growth in February and upward revisions to January GDP mean that the contraction in the first quarter will be much smaller than anticipated. 

'Clearly much of the economy has adapted to cope with Covid-19 restrictions... 'If the vaccine programme and lifting of restrictions continue on schedule this provides a firm basis for continuing growth in the second quarter and 2021 overall.' 

Construction saw the strongest recovery in February, making a significant contribution to overall growth despite being a smaller sector  

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