FEARS of a triple-dip recession could mount this week with the release of official figures expected to show the UK economy slumped into the red at the end of last year.
Economic experts are forecasting that Gross Domestic Product will have edged 0.1% lower in the final quarter of 2012, and there are concerns a snow-hit start to 2013 will see the UK head back into recession.
Friday's figures from the Office for National Statistics follow a run of grim economic indicators, with the retail, services and construction sectors all suffering in the final quarter of 2012.
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A decline in the last three months would be a sharp reversal of the 0.9% recovery seen in an Olympics-fuelled third quarter.
Today, the Ernst & Young ITEM club will say in its latest report that growth will be anaemic at best this year, forecasting 0.9% in 2013 before gaining momentum in 2014 and 2015, when GDP is expected to grow by 1.9% and 2.5% respectively.
The National Institute of Economic and Social Research has already given its gloomy assessment of fourth-quarter performance, predicting a 0.3% contraction at the end of last year.
The Markit/CIPS purchasing managers' index survey found the powerhouse services sector shrank last month for the first time in two years.