According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in its round up of statistics gathered over December, disappointing foreign trade performance was the primary cause for weakness.
Despite “considerable” fluctuation between quarters – caused by one-off events such as the Jubilee weekend and the Olympic Games – the level of output in the first three quarters remained unchanged compared to the same period last year.
Domestically generated expenditure was somewhat stronger in 2012, with households’ and government consumption providing a 0.7% rise in total domestic spending in the first nine months compared to the same period in 2011.
Despite a rise in business investment of more than 5% over this period, total investment fell slightly due to a sharp drop in private sector housing investment.
“Exports volumes rose only 0.2% compared to last year, against a 2.5% rise in imports, which reflects the weakness in the UK’s main export markets, especially in Europe. Exports of services were particularly weak, falling by over 2%,” said a statement from the ONS.
Earlier in the year the ONS confirmed the economy grew by 1% in the third quarter, exceeding the consensus forecast from the City, showing the fastest rate of quarterly growth in five years and marking the end of the double dip recession.
However, analysts are concerned growth will recede in the fourth quarter as the boost was due mainly to one-off factors.