LONDON - Britain's economy grew by 0.4% in February from January as companies got ready for the lifting of a third coronavirus lockdown, official data showed on Tuesday.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected growth of 0.6%.
But the data also showed that the fall in gross domestic product in January was not as severe as previously estimated, down by 2.2% compared with the initial reading of a 2.9% drop.
There were signs that trade between Britain and the European Union partially recovered in February after a hit in January, the first month of the new post-Brexit trade relationship.
The Office for National Statistics said the value of goods exports to the EU, excluding non-monetary gold and precious metals, rose by a monthly 47% in February to 11.6 billion pounds ($15.9 billion), while goods imports excluding non-monetary gold were up 7%.
Global goods exports were still 18% lower than a year earlier.
Britain's economy shrank by almost 10% last year, its biggest slump in more than three centuries and a more severe fall than in most European economies, as the country was battered by the coronavirus pandemic.
But a fast rollout of COVID-19 vaccines has raised the prospect of a bounce-back this year and in 2022.
Non-essential shops and outdoor hospitality venues reopened on Monday and Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes to relax most coronavirus restrictions before the end of June. ($1 = 0.7276 pounds)
(Reporting by David Milliken and William Schomberg; Editing by Kate Holton) ((firstname.lastname@example.org; +44 20 7542 5109; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))