The services aggregate was the main driver of the growth in GDP, growing by 0.6 percent and contributing 0.45 percentage points. Production continued to grow, driven mainly by rising manufacturing, with a rise of 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter, contributing 0.09 percentage points to GDP. However, construction contracted by 1 percent, contributing negative 0.06 percentage points. Agriculture also contracted by 0.4 percent and contributed 0.00 percentage points due to its low industry weight.
Services expanded by 0.6 percent, up from 0.4 percent in the previous period. The business services and finance sector continued to be the main driver of growth in services in the latest quarter (0.8 percent vs 0.7 percent in Q3), mainly boosted by employment activities. Transportation, storage and communication increased by 0.8 percent, after showing no growth in the previous quarter, as warehousing and support activities for transportation rose the most. Distribution, hotels and catering grew by 0.1 percent, after a 0.5 percent advance in the previous three-month period: wholesale trade and retail trade were the largest contributors to growth, increasing by 0.7 percent and 0.4 percent respectively. Government and other services grew by 0.4 percent, after a flat reading in the third quarter, with the largest contributor to this sector being human health activities.
Within production (0.6 percent from 0.3 percent in Q3), manufacturing was the largest contributor to growth (1.3 percent, the same as in Q3). In addition, electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply increased by 0.4 percent, compared to 1.4 percent in Q3; and water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities rebounded by 0.3 percent from a 0.5 percent contraction in the previous period. However, mining and quarrying fell by 3.9 percent, compared to a 2.9 percent growth in Q3, due to the well-publicised shut down of the Forties oil pipeline for a large part of December 2017.
Construction output was estimated to have decreased by 1 percent during the fourth quarter, following contraction in the previous two periods.
Compared with the same quarter of 2016, the economy grew 1.5 percent, also better than market expectations of 1.4 percent.
In 2017 as a whole, the GDP grew by 1.8 percent, compared to 1.9 percent in 2016, the slowest since 2012.