Business investment in Britain fell in early 2016, a sign that uncertainty caused by the country’s impending referendum on European Union membership is weighing on companies.
Growth in the economy slowed to 0.4 percent in the January-March period, the Office for National Statistics confirmed on Thursday, and many economists said it might lose further momentum in the second quarter.
Business investment fell in annual terms for the first time in three years, depressed by weaker spending on offices and other non-residential buildings. Weak trade figures again dragged on growth, leaving consumers as the economy’s drivers.
The services sector, which makes up 80 percent of the UK economy, showed signs of losing steam.
The Bank of England has previously said uncertainty hanging over the June 23 referendum was crimping investment, especially in the commercial real estate sector where transactions dropped 40 percent in the first quarter of this year.