Britain's economy recorded its fastest annual growth since 2007 last year despite a bigger-than-expected slowdown in the final three months of 2014. As Katie Gregory reports the mixed message comes just 100 days before Britons go to the polls.
The wheels of the UK economy are definitely in motion. Just not as quickly as the government would like... Growth was up by half a percent in the last quarter of 2014...that's 0.2% lower than the quarter before. Finance Minister George Osborne stuck to the positives. (SOUNDBITE) (English) UK FINANCE MINISTER, GEORGE OSBORNE MP, SAYING: "These figures show that the recovery is on track and that our plan is protecting Britain from the economic storm with the fastest growing major economy in 2014. But the international climate is getting worse and with the election 100 days away - now is not the time to abandon the plan and let Britain slide into economic chaos." Osborne is hoping a new storm front doesn't move in. Growth has been supported by a dominant service sector - but industries such as construction, mining and energy have seen a contraction. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS REPORTER, KATIE GREGORY, SAYING: "Last year the UK economy grew by 2.6% - it's fastest pace since before the Global Financial Crisis.And up from 1.7% in 2013. But it's still too early to know whether this new loss of momentum means the economy is on the brink of taking a turn for the worse." Consumer spending has been strong on the back of falling oil prices, and wage growth. But there are concerns says Kerry Craig from JP Morgan. (SOUNDBITE) (English) KERRY CRAIG, GLOBAL MARKETS STRATEGIST, JP MORGAN, SAYING: "I think the potential of a hung parliament in the UK in the coming year shouldn't be ruled out. That will obviously weigh very negatively on investor sentiment perhaps alter business decisions and investment there as well." Still Britain is fairing better that most - it's ahead of International Monetary Fund estimates - and is on track to be the world's fastest-growing major advanced economy last year.