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Strongest UK GDP growth since 2007

The UK economy is growing at the fastest rate since 2007 with GDP growth estimated at 0.7 per cent in the final quarter of 2013.

The preliminary estimate calculates the total economic growth for the country in 2013 at 1.9 per cent – its strongest rate since 2007, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS says increased output in agriculture, production and services were major contributors to the continued recovery and offset a decrease in growth in the construction industry.

The UK's service sector - which makes up more than three-quarters of economic output - rose by 0.8% in the fourth quarter, the ONS said, matching its performance in the previous quarter. And the manufacturing sector grew 0.9%.

But industrial production fell slightly from 0.8% to 0.7%, dragged down by falling North Sea oil and gas output.

Construction - which accounts for less than 8% of gross domestic product (GDP) - fell by 0.3% in the quarter, despite the recent recovery in a housing market boosted by the government's Help to Buy scheme.

In releasing the figures Martin Beck, UK economist at Capital Economics, said he expected growth to be slightly higher in the final three months of the year and points out that GDP is still 1.3 per cent below its ‘pre-crisis peak’.

Responding to the figures, Chancellor George Osborne said: "These numbers are a boost for the economic security of hard-working people. It is more evidence that our long-term economic plan is working.”

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