Britain’s economy shrank 0.5% in Q4 2010, not as much as was originally believed, according to the Office for National Statistics in London, which said Tuesday that figures had been revised upward to reflect more accurate levels of services and factory output.
Bloomberg News reported that the original number of 0.6% had been the median figure supported by economists who were surveyed by the news organization. However, the new number reflected a slightly less pessimistic state of affairs in the U.K. If the effects of the coldest December in more than 100 years was discounted, the Office said, growth for the period was “broadly flat.” The GDP report also indicated a drop in investment in Q4 by 1.8%—again, not as bad as originally anticipated at 2.5%.
Production output growth and decline in services were revised to 0.8% from 0.7% and to 0.6% from 0.7%, respectively. Exports were up by 1.7% and imports leaped up 3.2%, which was the most in a year. Government spending also rose 0.4%.
That said, the picture is by no means rosy. Last week the Office for Budget Responsibility cut its outlook for economic growth in 2011 to 1.7% from its original figure of 2.1%. Consumer spending was down 0.3% in Q4 from a stagnating Q3. Business investment was unchanged in Q4 from Q3, although it was up 12.2% for the year.
The 2010 account deficit increased in Q4 to 10.5 billion pounds ($16.8 billion) from 8.7 billion pounds in Q3; as a percentage of GDP, it was 2.9%. Trade in goods showed a Q4 deficit of 26.8 billion pounds, the most since the beginning of quarterly records in 1955. The current transfer deficit also hit record territory for Q4, coming in at 6.1 billion pounds.
On the bright side for 2011, mortgage approvals came in higher than estimated for February, at 46,967, according to a Bank of England release, up from 46,152 in January; that’s the highest they’ve been since November.