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UK economy shrinks in March most on record

Christian Fernsby |
Britain's economy shrank by a record 5.8% in March from February as the coronavirus crisis escalated and the government ordered a shutdown of much of the country to stop the spread of the virus, official data showed Wednesday.

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In the first three months of the year, gross domestic product contracted by 2.0% from the last three months of 2019, the Office for National Statistics said.

That was the largest quarter-on-quarter fall since the end of 2008, during the depths of the financial crisis, though slightly smaller than the average 2.5% forecast in a Reuters poll of economists.

Figures for April are likely to show an even bigger fall because the entire month was spent under lockdown by British companies and consumers.

Last week, the Bank of England said Britain's economy could be heading for its sharpest annual slump in GDP in more than 300 years, saying a 14% fall was possible, followed potentially by a 15% rise in 2021.

The ONS said output in Britain's giant services sector fell by a record 1.9% in the first quarter and there were also significant contractions in production and construction.

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