U.K. Construction Data Cast More Doubt on Fourth-Quarter Growth

Fresh doubts over the strength of the British economy emerged Friday as the building industry shrank more than previously estimated in the fourth quarter.

Construction output fell 0.4 percent instead of the 0.1 percent decline estimated in gross domestic product data last month, figures from the Office for National Statistics show. In December, output rose 1.5 percent, less than the 2 percent economists predicted.

The revision increases the risk that economic growth, currently estimated at 0.5 percent in the fourth quarter, will be revised lower when the ONS publishes its second estimate on Feb. 25.

Data this week showed that industrial production fell 0.5 percent between October and December, more than double the previous estimate.

The revisions to construction and industrial production -- together representing more than a fifth of the economy -- knock 0.06 percentage point off growth for the period. It means a downward revision to services, the largest part of the economy, could be enough to lower the rate of expansion to 0.4 percent.

Construction in December was led by new work, with housing gaining 3.8 percent, the most since April, and infrastructure climbing 12 percent. This was offset by a decline in repair and maintenance. The fall in the fourth quarter was also led by repairs as heavy rains led to projects being put on hold.

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