UK's gross domestic product, or GDP, contracted 1.9% on a quarter-on-quarter basis in the first quarter of 2009, compared with a decrease of 1.6% in the fourth quarter of 2008, the Office for National Statistics said Friday. It was the biggest quarterly decline since the third quarter of 1979. Economists had forecast the economy to contract 1.5% in the first quarter.

The increased rate of decline in output was due to weaker services and production output, the statistical office said.

On an annual basis, GDP fell 4.1% in the first three months of the year following a 2% decline in the final quarter of the previous year, while economists were expecting the economy to shrink 3.8%.

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