The UK economy improved slightly in February despite lockdown measures, according to official figures.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said GDP grew by 0.4 per cent – up from a 2.2 per cent decline in January.
Construction, the service sector and manufacturing – including car production – all saw rises.
However, the February reading was slightly below the forecasts of some analysts, with experts at Investec predicting a 0.7 per cent improvement for the month.
February 2021 was also nearly eight per cent lower than before the pandemic.
The construction sector saw activity jump by 1.6 per cent for the month amid a lift in new work and maintenance.
Production and manufacturing activity also improved, with the two sectors revealing one per cent and 1.3 per cent improvements respectively.
Meanwhile, the service sector remained particularly constrained, reporting just 0.2 per cent growth, as hospitality and retail remained constrained by pandemic restrictions.
An ONS spokeswoman said: ‘The economy showed some improvement in February after the large falls seen at the start of the year but remains around eight per cent below its pre-pandemic level.\
However, coming after a contraction in January, it does little to alter the prospect of a downbeat first quarter for the UK economy
‘Wholesalers and retailers both saw sales pick up a little, while manufacturing improved with car producers experiencing a partial recovery from a poor January.
‘Construction grew strongly after revised figures showed they had struggled in the last couple of months.
‘Exports to the EU recovered significantly from their January fall, though still remain below 2020 levels.
‘However, imports from the EU are yet to significantly rebound, with a number of issues hampering trade.’
Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chamber of Commerce, said: ‘The latest data confirms a modest return to growth in February.
‘However, coming after a contraction in January, it does little to alter the prospect of a downbeat first quarter for the UK economy.
‘The pick-up in output in February reflected a broad-based improvement in activity with all the main sectors recording an increase in growth.
‘The clarity provided by February’s announcement of a road map for reopening also helped support output in the month.’