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UK GDP grows 0.4% in August as Covid curbs continue to ease

 
London, Oct 13 (IANS) Britain's gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to have grown by 0.4 per cent monthly in August as Covid-19 restrictions continued to ease, the British Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Wednesday.

However, the British economy is still 0.8 per cent below the pre-pandemic level in February 2020, the Xinhua news agency reported.

In August, the services and production sector grew by 0.3 per cent and 0.8 per cent month-on-month respectively, whereas output in the construction sector fell by 0.2 per cent, the ONS said.

Notably, output in consumer-facing services increased by 1.2 per cent in August, with most of the growth in the services coming from "a 5.9 per cent increase in food and beverage service activities, and a 47.9 per cent increase in travel agency, tour operator and other related reservation services (growing from historically low levels)," said the ONS.

"The recovery in hospitality and culture/recreation activity in the UK is essentially complete, according to August GDP -- a striking reconvergence with consumer goods trade over summer," said James Smith, a developed markets economist at financial services firm ING.

Julian Jessop, a British independent economist, said: "Economic activity just about on track to return to its pre-Covid level this Autumn, which would be much sooner than most had expected at the start of the year."

"The 0.4 percent month-on-month rise in GDP in August confirms that the rapid gains in output, which in just 16 months lifted GDP from being 25.1 percent below its February 2020 pre-pandemic peak to 0.8 percent below, are now behind us," said Paul Dales, an economist at the Capital Economics UK, an economic research consultancy based in London.

Meanwhile, Dales said he believes goods and staff shortages, including energy crisis, may stall the country's economic growth and interest rates hike.

"And shortages, including the petrol/energy crisis, may prevent GDP from rising much in the coming months. This weaker activity outlook may prevent the Bank of England from hiking interest rates this year."

Another 38,520 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19 and the country also recorded another 181 coronavirus-related deaths, according to official figures released Tuesday.

More than 85 per cent of people aged 12 and over in Britain have had their first dose of vaccine and more than 78 percent have received both doses, the latest figures showed.

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States have been racing against time to roll out coronavirus vaccines.

--IANS
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