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British Economy Grows 1.8% In 2005

The British economy grew by 1.8% last year, the slowest pace since 1992, official data showed on Feb. 24. This second estimate from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) was unchanged from an initial reading in January.

The 2005 reading marked a strong deceleration from a year earlier, when gross domestic product (GDP) growth had stood at 3.2%.

The 2005 growth figure only just overshot British Finance Minister Gordon Brown's official 1.75% annual growth forecast. Brown, who is set to unveil his 2006-2007 budget to parliament on March 22, had slashed his annual estimate last December from an original 3.0-3.5% prediction. He recently blamed high energy prices on the country's weak economic growth in 2005.

"We are not wholly convinced that this is the start of a period of stronger and more healthily balanced economic growth, however," said Capital Economics analyst Jonathan Loynes.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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