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UK economy recovers to pandemic levels; pound highest since 2016 – business live

UK economy finally larger than pre-Covid, after burst of growth in November… before Omicron hit

The UK economy surpassed its pre-pandemic level for the first time in November after growing by 0.9% over the month, partly driven by an unexpected surge in early Christmas shopping.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said a jump in restaurant bookings and a rapid turnaround in construction output were also behind the growth that took the size of the economy 0.7% above its level before March 2020.

“Stronger growth in November is likely to be followed by a modest fall in output in December and January, as consumer caution to socialise and spend, and mounting staff absences sparked by Omicron and plan B limit activity.

“While the UK economy should rebound once plan B measures are lifted, surging inflation and persistent supply chain disruption may mean that the UK’s economic growth prospects remain under pressure for much of 2022.”

“Today’s GDP data show an economy growing robustly on the eve of omicron, with a welcome return to pre-pandemic levels of monthly output as sectors such as retail grew rapidly.

“But more timely data show that consumer-facing services like hospitality hit a brick wall in December and January, as families become more cautious in the face of rising cases.

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