UK Q4 GDP Beats Expectations With 0.6% Growth, Services Sector Remains Dominant

"As such, we continue to think that growth will be a reasonable (above-consensus) at 1.8 percent in 2017", said Gregory.

Full year growth of 1.6% places the U.S. behind the United Kingdom, which this week reported that GDP rose by 2% last year.

State and local government spending also grew in the fourth quarter - at a 1.2 percent percentage rate - off-setting a slowdown in federal government spending. A temporary surge in soybean exports during the third quarter had helped narrow the overall trade gap, and net exports boosted the headline GDP growth rate that quarter by 0.85 percentage point.

Previous expectations called for 2.2pc growth for the fourth quarter.

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GDP for the whole of 2016 was 2.0%, again beating estimates of 1.9%, and making it likely that the United Kingdom economy grew faster than the US, Germany and the Euro-area as a whole, said Ian Forrest, investment research analyst at The Share Centre. That said, we don't expect the slowdown to be too severe. Growth is seen at 2.3 percent in 2017 and 2018, based on median projections in a Bloomberg survey earlier this month.

Ulster University economist Dr Esmond Birnie said: "These figures tell us that the economy appears to have passed through the Brexit vote with little disturbance in terms of the short-term economic growth rate".

President Donald Trump has set a goal of doubling growth through an ambitious stimulus program featuring tax cuts, deregulation and higher infrastructure spending.

In the third quarter, real GDP increased 3.5%.

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Steady consumer spending and rising business investment suggests the USA economy will continue to expand.

David Cliff, Managing Director of Gedanken, the North East's leading executive and business coaching organisation said: "The growth in GDP is a strong indicator that our economy is roughly on the right track, especially the service sector, which once again shouldered the burden of much of the increase". Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the USA economy, was a relative bright spot, especially on automobiles, appliances and electronics.

Year-on-year growth in Britain in 2016 exceeded Germany's, where the economy grew 1.9 percent last year.

Business investment continued to pick up in late 2016.

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Gross domestic purchases price index: Increased by 2%. However, it was offset by negative contributions from exports and government spending. A measure of inflation, which is tied to consumer spending and strips out food and energy costs, climbed at a 1.3 percent annualized pace.

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