Recession-hit Britain swings to economic growth in January, helped by construction bounce

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People walk along Waterloo Bridge past the City of London skyline, the capital’s financial district, on a sunny and mild day.

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LONDON — U.K. gross domestic product grew 0.2% in January, the Office for National Statistics said Wednesday, as construction output jumped unexpectedly.

The headline figure was in line with the forecast from economists polled by Reuters.

It follows a 0.1% contraction in December, while the U.K. economy entered a shallow recession in the second half of last year.

Construction output was 1.1% higher in January, the ONS said, but fell 0.9% over a three-month period. Services recorded 0.2% growth in January, providing the biggest contribution to growth, as production output fell 0.2%.

Jack Meaning, chief U.K. economist at Barclays, described the figures as “not a hugely positive picture, but it’s ahead of where we were at the end of last year.”

“Industrial and manufacturing have been weak for the last few prints, you’d expect some bounce-back from that in the end,” Meaning told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” Wednesday.

“This is good to see, but we’ll have to see it on a more prolonged basis to know that it is something sustained.”

The British pound remained flat against the U.S. dollar and the euro following the release.