New economic results from both sides of the Atlantic provide little cheer.

In the US, the economy continued to show signs of weakness with first-quarter growth of 1.6% year-on-year, only just ahead of the 1.4% rise in the fourth quarter 2002. The Commerce Department figures reveal that consumer spending rose 1.4%, while business expenditure tumbled 4.2%.

Analysts hope that growth will pick up now that conflict in Iraq is over. The latest reading of the University of Michigan’s confidence index suggests conditions are improving, the barometer rising from 77.6 in March to 86 this month.

Meanwhile, on the eastern side of the pond, Britain’s economy managed 2.3% growth year-on-year in the first quarter, according to preliminary figures from the Office for National Statistics.

However, compared with Q4 2002, GDP rose just 0.2%, half the growth rate of the previous quarter. Expansion in the service sector, which makes up two-thirds of Britain’s economy, slowed to 0.3%, though the manufacturing industry surprised economists with a rare quarter of growth.

Data sourced from: multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff