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Business

UK growth slowdown to hit Cameron campaign

First-quarter GDP in Britain slowed more than expected, dealing a blow to the government ahead of next week's elections. Growth was lackluster across the board, including in the country's dominant service sector.

Gross domestic product grew by a mere 0.3 percent in the fist quarter, compared with the previous quarter, according to the preliminary reading released on Tuesday. Analysts had expected 0.5-percent growth. The all-important service sector grew by just 0.5 percent, the slowest rate since mid-2013.

It was the slowest rate of growth since the end of 2012, putting a damper on UK Prime Minister David Cameron's campaign message emphasizing the achievements of the government's "long-term ecomomic plan" ahead of the general election on May 7.

UK Finance Minister George Osborne tweeted that the figures showed that the recovery in Britain could not be "taken for granted" and that voters should stick with the government's plan.

While the Conservatives are focused on fiscal discipline, the opposition Labour party's campaign has been concentrating on the cost of living, as wages have failed to rise in line with inflation throughout the current government's near five-year term.

But Cameron's economic credentials have received a boost from several private sector surveys as well as the Bank of England's minutes painting an upbeat picture about demand, especially from a pick-up in the eurozone.

The Conservatives and Labour are currently

neck-and-neck

, with neither expected to win an overall majority.

ng/rc (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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