UK economy shows strength in May after construction bounce

The British economy expanded by 0.3 percent in May from the previous month, a strong performance that is likely to further bolster expectations that the Bank of England will raise interest rates next month.

The Office for National Statistics said Tuesday that much of the growth was due to a 2.9 percent growth in construction. It was the first time the agency published monthly figures for growth, which has traditionally been reported quarterly.

The figures back the bank's claim that first-quarter growth was mainly held back by wintry weather. In the first three months, the economy grew by a tepid 0.2 percent.

The Bank of England has its next policy meeting on Aug. 2 and is widely expected to raise its benchmark interest rate by a quarter-point to 0.75 percent.