UK cuts growth forecast for 2019 - Hammond

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond is seen outside Downing Street in London, Britain, March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain has lowered its official forecast for economic growth in 2019, finance minister Philip Hammond said on Wednesday as he delivered a half-yearly budget update.

The country’s official budget forecasters expected gross domestic product would grow by 1.2 percent in 2019, down from a forecast of 1.6 percent they made when Hammond gave his full budget statement in October.

Economists had expected the growth outlook to be lowered because of Britain’s failure to clear up the uncertainty about Brexit and a slowdown in the world economy.

Growth forecasts in 2020 and 2021 stood at 1.4 and 1.6 percent respectively, compared with forecasts of 1.4 percent for both years made in October.

The figures were prepared for Hammond by the Office for Budget Responsibility. They assume Britain will secure a Brexit deal, avoiding the shock of leaving the European Union with no transition.

Reporting by Andy Bruce and William Schomberg, editing by Larry King