Interesting and welcome news on the economy. Heres the link: http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/economics/article7090155.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797084 Gordon Brown's election campaign pledge to strengthen the country's nascent economic recovery was boosted today after new figures revealed that Britain is expected to grow faster than its G7 counterparts over the first half of the year. In its outlook for the group of developed nations in the first six months of 2010, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development estimates that the UK economy will grow at an annual rate of 2 per cent in the first quarter of the year. This is faster than Germany, Japan and Italy but will not match the pace of Canada, the US and France. In the second quarter of the year, between April and June, the OECD forecasts UK growth of 3.1 per cent in the second quarter, higher than any of the economies in the group except for Canada. Mr Brown argues that the Conservative's cost-cutting plans could undermine Britain's recovery and risks sending the economy into a double-dip recession. GDP figures due on April 23 - two weeks before the general election on May 6 - will reveal if the British economy is growing or has plunged back into negative territory. Related Links * A crisis we canât afford to be retiring about * Myners and G7 to home in on bankers' bonuses * G7 ministers 'must help struggling Ireland' Britain lagged behind the world's largest economies in emerging from recession, which it exited in the fourth quarter last year, compared to America, Japan, China, Germany and France who all reported GDP growth in the third quarter of 2009. In last month's Budget, Alistair Darling said he expected GDP growth of between 1 per cent and 1.5 per cent for this year. He revised down forecasts for next year from between 3.25 per cent and 3.75 per cent to between 3 per cent and 3.75 per cent Commenting on whether the OECD's forecasts for the first two quarter of 2010 tally with the Chancellor's expectations for the year, Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, said: "This outlook looks very optimistic compared with other predictions. "Alistair Darling will be delighted with these figures as they imply that the economy is picking up more than he forecasts. He could point to it as further evidence that we are coming out of recession. "The government may also be worried as one of their big selling points for the election is they don't want to cut spending this year because the economy is too fragile. These figures suggest the economy is recovering at a faster pace and could also be used by the Conservatives to support Cameron's view that we should start cutting spending now. " New figures today suggest that the economy is still fragile. Britain's dominant services sector expanded at a slower-than-expected pace in March after reaching a three-year high in February. The Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), the leading index of services activity which covers everything from financial services through to restaurants, fell from a reading of 58.4 in February to 56.5 in March, according to index compilers Markit and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS), suggesting the UK still faces a slow climb out of recession. Britainâs services sector accounts for nearly three quarters of GDP and todayâs poor reading will add to concerns about the rate of the country's recovery from recession between January and March this year. Sterling fell to around $1.5232 against the dollar, a drop of more than 0.2 per cent, from $1.5280. Employment in the sector edged up during March, the PMI showed, ending two years of corporate bloodshed as companies laid off staff. David Noble, chief executive of CIPS, said he hoped the figures were the start of a âtipping pointâ in job creation. âIt is hugely encouraging to see the number of jobs in the sector increase for the first time in nearly two years,â Mr Noble said. âWhilst business conditions have been recovering for a few months now, most employers have been wary of taking on new staff until they are sure this is a genuine and sustainable recovery.â Across the services sector, IT and business services reported the strongest growth in March. Yet despite large companies performing well, smaller businesses are lagging behind and still laying off staff. âIt wonât be until we see these smaller businesses really start to recover that we can say the services sector is returning to full health.â Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight said the slowdown in services growth in March was ânothing to really worry aboutâ. The sectorâs exceptional performance in February could be an artificial high due to the sector making up for a loss of business in January, he said. âAt 56.9 in March, the business activity index was still well into expansion territory,â he said. âFurthermore, other elements of the survey bode relatively well for services activity in the near term at least, with incoming new business seeing pretty solid growth, business expectations climbing to a near three-year high and employment in the sector edging up for the first time since April 2008.â The PMI has been accused in the past of painting a rosier picture than figures issued later by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Mr Archer said: âThe hit to services activity in January is highlighted by the ONS reporting that services output fell by 0.7 per cent month-on-month.â The results come as a survey of more than 5,000 companies published by the British Chambers of Commerce today suggests that service companies reported a rise in domestic and export orders. Activity in the construction and manufacturing sectors also picked up in March, surveys published this week showed.