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Britain emerges from recession?

Statistics from the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR), published on Thursday, show that the economy grew by 0.3 per cent between October and December.

The growth was aided by strong retail sales in the build up to Christmas, the group said.

If true, the news spells an end to the worst recession faced by the UK since 1921. Britain’s output contracted by 4.8 per cent in 2009, it added, worse than any single year of the Great Depression.

Sounding a cautionary note, the Institute said: "The broader picture of the depression is that output fell sharply for 12 months until March and has not changed very much since then, although evidence of a recovery is starting to emerge.

It added: "The recovery will be weak because consumer spending, housing investment and business capital spending will carry on falling in 2010, though by much less than this year.

“Private consumption will decline by 1.1 per cent despite rising disposable income as households save more; the saving ratio will rise from 1.7 per cent in 2008 to 6.1 this year and 8.9 in 2010."

It follows separate research released this week by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) which, on the contrary, uncovered “no robust and significant growth during the fourth quarter of 2009”

A first official estimate of economic growth will be published by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) on 26 January.

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