Manufacturing slump puts UK economy into reverse as Brexit looms

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GDP contracts by 0.4% in December in weakest year for growth since 2012

Robots weld vehicle panels at Nissan's Sunderland plant.
Manufacturing of cars and steel products has dropped in the UK. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

The British economy plunged into reverse in December, with a broad-based slump in economic output completing the weakest year for growth since 2012.

The Office for National Statistics said gross domestic product contracted by 0.4% from the previous month, fuelled by a fall in spending on the high street over the key festive shopping period.

With less than 50 days to go before Brexit, the figures showed all three drivers of growth in the British economy ??? services, production and construction ??? shrank during December.

The decline in monthly output helped drag down quarter-on-quarter growth to a rate of 0.2% in the three months to the end of the year, slightly below the Bank of England???s expectations and down from a rate of 0.6% in the third quarter.

uk growth

Economists tend to focus on the three-month figures, as monthly GDP snapshots can be prone to revision, but the scale of the decline in December is likely to be seen as a sign of the economy losing momentum as Brexit draws nearer.

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