UK GDP revised up, but 2020 still worst year on record: ONS

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LONDON, March 31 (Xinhua) — Britain’s gross domestic product (GDP) slump for 2020 was revised to 9.8 percent from a first estimate of 9.9 percent, according to figures from the British Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Wednesday, though this is still the largest annual fall in the country’s output on record.

Meanwhile, the fourth quarter (Q4) GDP grew by 1.3 percent, up from an initial estimate of 1.0 percent growth. This left GDP 7.3 percent below the fourth quarter of 2019, revised from a previous estimate of 7.8 percent, said the ONS.

Notably, the household saving ratio increased to 16.1 percent in the fourth quarter from a revised 14.3 percent in the third. Over the year, the ratio rose sharply, reaching a record high of 16.3 percent, compared with 6.8 percent in 2019, said the ONS.

Ruth Gregory, an economist at London-based economic analysis firm Capital Economics, said the upwards revision meant “the economy does not have quite as far to recover from the COVID-19 crisis.”

“And Q4’s high saving rate leaves plenty of scope for a rapid rebound in 2021, spurred and financed by consumers,” Gregory added.

For independent economist Julian Jessop, the released data represented two positive aspects for 2021 — “firstly, revisions showed UK economy had a bit more positive momentum in second half of last year than previously thought; secondly, household savings rate rose to 16.1 percent in Q4 2020, implying plenty of pent-up demand.”

On Feb. 22, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his four-step roadmap exiting the lockdown, the third of its kind since the start of the pandemic in the country.

From Monday, two households or groups of up to six are now allowed to meet outside, including in private gardens and outdoor team sports are reopening.

In the second step — no earlier than April 12 — all shops will be allowed to open, along with close-contact services, including hairdressers and beauty salons. Restaurants and pubs will also be allowed to serve food and alcohol to customers sitting outdoors. All COVID-19 restrictions in England are expected to be removed by mid-June.

Other parts of Britain, including Wales and Northern Ireland, have also unveiled plans to ease the restrictions.

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States have been racing against time to roll out coronavirus vaccines. Enditem

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