UK economy rebounds in first quarter

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The UK economy grew 0.5% in the first three months of 2019, up from 0.2% in the previous quarter, official figures show.

The rise was partly driven by firms stockpiling ahead of the UK’s expected departure from the EU on 29 March, the Office for National Statistics said.

“Manufacturers were clearing their order books before March 29,” an ONS statistician said.

The growth rate was in line with analysts’ forecasts.

Previous business surveys had shown manufacturers stockpiling goods for Brexit in case the UK left the EU without a transition deal, which they feared could lead to delays at UK borders.

However, the UK’s exit from the EU has since been delayed until the end of October after Prime Minister Theresa May asked the EU for more time to negotiate a deal.

Between January and March, the manufacturing sector grew at its fastest rate since 1988 as the Brexit deadline loomed.

The ONS said the sharp rise was driven by manufacturers rushing to deliver orders before the 29 March.

Pharmaceuticals was one of the sectors most affected, expanding 9.4% between January and March.

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