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British 2013 growth downgraded to 1.8%

Britain's economy grew by less than previously thought last year, downwardly revised official data showed on Wednesday.

LONDON: Britain's economy grew by less than previously thought last year, but still registered the fastest rate of growth since before the financial crisis, revised official data showed on Wednesday.

The nation's gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 1.8 percent in 2013, down from the previous growth figure of 1.9 percent, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement giving its latest estimates.

That nevertheless marked the biggest annual expansion since 2007.

The economy meanwhile grew by 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, compared with the previous three months, aided by strong trade and business investment.

The quarterly rate was unchanged from the previous reading.

"It's encouraging that business investment grew strongly in the fourth quarter," said a Treasury spokesman.

"The government's long-term economic plan is working, but as the Chancellor said last week the recovery is not yet secure.

"The budget next month will do more to support investment and exports, and the biggest risk to the recovery would be abandoning the plan that's providing economic security for hardworking people."

British finance minister George Osborne, whose official title is Chancellor of the Exchequer, will present the coalition government's 2014 budget on March 19.

The fourth-quarter expansion meanwhile followed a 0.8-percent growth in the third quarter of last year.

"The slightly lower revision in the annualised GDP number is a little disappointing but overall the numbers today are encouraging with a significant increase in business investment which suggests that the recent recovery could well start to gain a bit of traction," noted CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

The Bank of England had forecast earlier this month that the economy will grow by 3.4 percent in 2014, as the recovery picks up speed, boosted by rising business investment and home construction.

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