LONDON (AP) -- Britain's Office for National Statistics is set to release its estimate of the country's economic growth — or lack of it — in the first quarter.
The numbers are being closely watched because a decline would mean the U.K. economy has slipped back into recession.
Britain's government desperately wants a robust number to justify its austerity policies. But indicators ahead of Thursday's release have not been promising for Britain, the third-largest economy in the 27-country EU.
Economists on average expect the figures will show the economy grew 0.1 percent compared with the previous quarter. But with growth so anemic, even a statistical blip could put the number in negative territory and push Britain into its third recession since 2008.
A recession is typically defined as two quarters of economic contraction.