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Construction 'boosted first quarter growth'

The ONS said that rather than the earlier estimated growth of 0.3 per cent, the economy actually grew by 0.4 per cent over the first three months of the year.

Construction was identified as a major contributor to this upward revision, with an earlier announcement from ONS confirming that construction output dropped by just 0.2 per cent in the three-month period rather than the 1.1 per cent drop previously estimated.

ONS chief economist Joe Grice commented: “The slight upward revision to growth in the first quarter of 2015 is down largely to the recently announced new methods to measure construction output.”

Economists had previously called into question the methods used by the statistics agency to measure construction sector growth amid concern that its strength has been underestimated.

Indeed, a number of private company surveys indicated strong health in the sector in the early months of the year. Markit noted that a boom in new work lead to a significant increase in the pace of growth seen in the sector in February, lead primarily by housebuilders. The Markit CIPS UK construction PMI for the month reached a four-month high of 60.1 in February, suggesting that the industry as a whole was feeling positive.

Analysts have suggested that the economic recovery will gain momentum over the coming quarters with stronger levels of growth expected. Figures of around three per cent are being suggested as estimated levels of annual growth for the country across all sectors over the course of the year.