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GDP Growth Steady At 0.5% In Fourth Quarter

(c) Sky News 2016

UK economic growth rose at a steady 0.5% in the final three months of 2015, according to the first official estimate.

The calculation - by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) - is subject to revision but its figure suggested the economy grew by 2.2% over the year as a whole - leaving it among the strongest in the developed world.

However, it represented a slowdown on 2014's annual growth of 2.9%.

The quarterly growth figure marked a slight increase on the 0.4% reported for July-September, which was unrevised.

The ONS said output increased in two of the main sectors within the economy in the final three months of 2015 - with the dominant services sector rising 0.7% and agriculture growing by 0.6%.

However, production - which includes manufacturing - decreased by 0.2% while construction output fell by 0.1%.

Responding to the figures, the Chancellor George Osborne tweeted: "Shows UK continues to grow steadily & despite turbulence in global economy we're pushing ahead.

"With (Other OTC: WWTH - news) turbulence in world, there may be bumpy times ahead. UK must stick with plan that's cutting deficit, attracting business, creating jobs."

The turbulence he refers to is the slowdown in emerging markets, such as China, which has aided the collapse in world commodity prices - especially oil.

This - coupled with the effects of a strong pound - damaged export demand from the UK and the Government's rebalancing efforts to grow trade to make the country less reliant on services, particularly consumer spending.

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