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British economy officially in recession

Gross domestic product tumbles 1.5% in the fourth quarter, marking two straight quarters of negative growth.

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LONDON (CNN) -- The British economy is officially in a recession, according to GDP numbers released Friday.

The British gross domestic product declined by 1.5% in the fourth quarter of 2008, the British government announced. That followed a decline of 0.5% in the third quarter.

The traditional definition of a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth.

There were already hints the British economy was heading toward a recession before the fourth-quarter results emerged, because second-quarter results for 2008 had showed no change in the GDP.

"The increased rate of decline in output was due to weaker services and production industries output," Britain's Office for National Statistics announced.

Manufacturing output fell by 4.6% in the fourth quarter and was the biggest contributor to the slowdown in production, the government said.

Large declines also occurred in construction; the services sector, especially hotels and restaurants; and transport. To top of page

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