Britain's economy picked up some speed in the second quarter after a sharp winter slowdown in early 2018 but lost momentum in June, underlining its stuttering performance ahead of Brexit in less than eight months' time. GDP expanded 0.4% in the April-June period, as expected.

The economy's annual growth rate picked up slightly to 1.3% in the second quarter, only a touch above a nearly six-year low of 1.2% at the start of the year.

In June alone, the economy grew 0.1% after a 0.3% rise in May, weaker than market forecasts for a 0.2% expansion, the Office for National Statistics said.

Growth over the second quarter was driven mostly by the service sector. Net trade was the biggest drag on the economy since the third quarter of 2016.

Quarterly growth in household spending quickened slightly to 0.3% from 0.2% in the first quarter, but stood only 1.1% higher than a year ago, the weakest annual increase since early 2012.

Consumers have struggled to cope with weak wage growth for much of the past decade and a spike in inflation after the Brexit vote only added to the problem. More recently, wages have risen more quickly than inflation but there have been signs that household finances remain stretched.

The ONS said business investment expanded 0.5% quarter-on-quarter, only barely outweighing a 0.4% drop in the first three months of the year. The year-on-year rise of 0.8% in business investment was the weakest since the end of 2016.

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