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UK Economic Growth Slows In February

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The UK economy expanded for the second straight month, but at a slower pace, in February, figures from the Office For National Statistics showed on Wednesday.

Gross domestic product, or GDP, grew 0.2 percent month-on-month in February, while the economy expanded 0.5 percent in January. Economists were looking for growth to remain flat in February.

In December, GDP decreased 0.3 percent.

On a 3-month-on-3-month basis, GDP remained steady at 0.3 percent in February, same as in January. Economists had expected 0.2 percent growth.

"GDP growth remained modest in the latest three months," ONS Head of GDP Rob Kent-Smith said. "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," Kent-Smith added.

Both industrial production and manufacturing grew for a second straight month.

Industrial production rose 0.6 percent monthly in February, following a 0.7 percent rise. Economists were looking for a 0.2 percent growth.

Manufacturing output grew 0.9 percent month-on-month after a 1.1 percent rise in January. Economists had expected a 0.2 percent increase.

The services index edged up 0.1 percent monthly, after a 0.3 percent rise in the previous month, in line with economists' expectations.

The largest positive contributor to monthly growth in the service sector was legal activities, which recovered from a fall in January. However, this was offset by a decline in advertising.

Construction rose 0.4 percent compared to the previous month, following a 3.5 percent rise in the prior month. Economists had forecast a 0.3 percent decline. Growth was largely driven by private housing new work and infrastructure.

Separately, the ONS reported that the visible trade deficit in February narrowed slightly to GBP 14.12 billion from GBP 14.62 billion in January. Economists had forecast a GBP 12.85 billion deficit.

The total trade deficit narrowed to GBP 4.86 billion in February from GBP 5.35 billion in January. Economists had expected a deficit of GBP 3.9 billion.

The non-EU trade in goods deficit decreased to GBP 5.84 billion in February from GBP 6.56 billion in January. Economists had forecast a shortfall of GBP 4.50 billion.

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