July 10, 2019 / 8:35 AM / 3 months ago

CORRECTED-UK economy grows more than expected in May, helped by autos rebound

 (Corrects 3rd paragraph of July 10 story to show month-on-month
economic growth was as expected, not stronger than forecast)
    LONDON, July 10 (Reuters) - Britain's economy grew by more
than expected in the three months to May, helped a rebound in
car production after Brexit-related shutdowns, according to
figures that will ease concerns about the extent of the
country's slowdown.
    Output in the three months to May was 0.3% higher than in
the previous three-month period, helped by an upward revision to
growth in March and beating the consensus forecast in a Reuters
poll of economists for growth of 0.1%.
    The economy grew 0.3% in May alone after contracting by 0.4%
in April, the Office for National Statistics said, as expected.
    "The economy returned to growth in the month of May,
following the fall seen in April. This was mainly due to the
partial recovery in car production," ONS statistician Rob
Kent-Smith said.
    Car manufacturers in Britain brought forward their annual
summer maintenance shutdowns to April to help dodge potential
disruption in the aftermath of the original March 29 Brexit
deadline, which has now been pushed back to October.
    The Bank of England, worried about global trade tensions as
well as Brexit uncertainty, forecast last month that economic
output would flatline during the three months to June after
growth of 0.5% in the first-quarter of the year.
    Business surveys last week showed the world's fifth-biggest
economy lost momentum in June and might even have shrunk in the
second quarter of 2019.
    But Wednesday's data suggested the economy might be on track
to eke out a little growth in the second quarter.
    Compared with a year earlier, growth in May alone stood at
1.5%, stronger than the median poll forecast for 1.3%.

 (Reporting by Andy Bruce and William Schomberg)
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