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Britain possibly skids into a recession

April 25, 2012 at 1:13 PM   |   Comments

LONDON, April 25 (UPI) -- Britain's Office of National Statistics said Wednesday the gross domestic product dropped for the second consecutive quarter in January through March.

A 3 percent drop in construction is being blamed for tipping the scales in the first quarter, pushing the British economy into a double-dip recession, the government said.

Britain's Office for National Statistics said during the first three months of 2012, Britain's economy shrank by 0.2 percent after dipping 0.3 percent in the final quarter of 2011, the BBC reported.

Economists define recession as two consecutive quarters of contraction. However, officially, central banks and other government agencies look at other factors when setting official dates of a recession.

In any event, there won't be an official declaration of a recession for at least two months, given Wednesday's figures come from a preliminary report with numbers that could change as more data becomes available in the next two months.

More data could bring the GDP back to zero or higher. It could also slip lower. The current figures were calculated using only 40 percent of the data that will be available later.

In the first quarter, output of industrial production fell 0.4 percent after falling 1.3 percent in the previous quarter.

Construction dropped 3 percent after falling 0.2 percent in October through December. Service businesses, however, made a slight comeback with output growing 0.1 percent after a decline of 0.1 percent in the previous quarter.

"It's taking longer than anyone hoped to recover from the biggest debt crisis of our lifetime," Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said.

Osborne blamed the situation on the enormous debt Britain built up in "the good years" plus the fact that much of Europe is in recession or heading into recession.

The figures released Wednesday are slightly worse than expected but are subject to revision in the coming months.

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