By Marcus Leach

The UK economy narrowly avoided a triple dip recession with the news that GDP grew by 0.3% for the opening three months of the year.

Many analysts had predicted what the official data from the Office for National Statistics confirmed, with a 0.6% growth in the service sector contributing most to the increase in GDP.

This growth followed a 0.3% contraction in the final three months of 2012. A recession is officially defined by two consecutive quarters of negative growth.

Chancellor George Osborne says the figures are "an encouraging sign the economy is healing. Despite a tough economic backdrop, we are making progress".

Mr Osborne adds: "The deficit is down by a third, businesses have created over a million and a quarter new jobs, and interest rates are at record lows. We all know there are no easy answers to problems built up over many years, and I can't promise the road ahead will always be smooth, but by continuing to confront our problems head on, Britain is recovering and we are building an economy fit for the future."

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