Britain's economy grew by 0.5 percent in the first quarter, boosted by companies stockpiling ahead of Brexit, official data showed on Friday. The optimistic data comes in defiance of fears of a "no-deal" Brexit that dominated the UK's political agenda at the beginning of the year.
The ONS figures, however, showed a surprise 0.5% quarter-on-quarter lift in business investment after the measure had fallen throughout 2018.
Manufacturing recorded a 2.2 percent rise in manufacturing.
United Kingdom economic activity was given a temporary boost as companies rushed to build up stocks of components and goods before the original March 29 Brexit deadline, the Bank of England said.
The euro zone's economy expanded by 0.4 per cent in the three months to March, rebounding from a patch of sluggish growth in the second half of 2018 caused by global trade tensions and regulatory problems for the auto industry. "When you look at the broader picture, what's happening in Germany, what's happening in the EU27, this is good solid performance for the United Kingdom economy, given the circumstances".
Strong first quarter performance unlikely to last for the rest of the year says Yael Selfin, chief economist at KPMG UK, "A strong manufacturing performance in the first quarter coincides with survey evidence, which points at manufacturing continuing to outpace services in coming months".
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The UK's trade deficit doubled in 1Q19, from £8.9 bln to £18.3 bln, which is a negative development, given the gradual reduction of the deficit over the past few quarters.
Britain's economy grew by 0.5 per cent in the first three months of this year, despite the backdrop of Brexit and uncertainty around the upcoming European elections in May. However, consumer demand remained solid amid low unemployment, rising wages, and stable consumer confidence.
"The relatively strong growth figures for Q1 may just be a flash in the pan".
The deceleration echoes the trend noted by the Markit UK Services Purchasing Manager's Index (PMI) for March, when companies opted to delay spending due to the uncertainty over Brexit.
This compares to 0.2 per cent growth in the previous quarter, when auto manufacturing declined at its steepest rate in just under a decade.
The Government's consumption increased by 1.4 percent, up slightly on 1.3 percent in the final quarter of previous year.