The UK economy has returned to recession, official figures have shown.
The economy shrank by 0.2% in the first three months of 2012, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. This followed contraction of 0.3% in the last three months of 2011.
The ONS said there was a sharp 3% fall in construction output, the biggest fall for three years, adding that it had double-checked the figures.
A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction.
Wednesday’s figure is the preliminary estimate from the ONS, based on only about 40% of the information that will be used to reach later figures.
The figure is subject to further revisions.
The ONS said output of the production industries decreased by 0.4%, construction decreased by 3%, and output of the service sector increased by 0.1%.
Joe Grice, chief economic adviser to the ONS, said that an increase in fuel buying came at the end of the quarter.
But he said there was “no reason to suppose [there were] any special factors… in these figures”.