British economy returns to growth


Britain’s economy expanded 0.3 percent in the first quarter of 2013, official data confirmed Thursday, returning to growth and avoiding the country’s third recession since the 2008 financial crisis.

Gross domestic product grew from January to March after falling by 0.3 percent in the final three months of 2012, the Office for National Statistics said.

That still left the economy essentially flat over the past six months, but it did avoid entering recession, which is defined as two straight quarters of shrinking economic activity.

The economy grew 0.6 percent in the January-March period compared with the first quarter of 2012. That was also unchanged from the previous estimate. Output was boosted by a strong services sector, which grew by 0.6 percent in the first quarter, despite heavy snow across Britain. The services sector, which makes up about three-quarters of the economy, has now grown every quarter since the end of 2009.