Britain's coronavirus-hammered economy grew more quickly than previously thought in the final three months of last year but still shrank by the most in more than three centuries in 2020 as a whole, official data shows. 

Gross domestic product increased by 1.3% between October and December last year from the previous three-month period, the Office for National Statistics said. 

That was stronger than an earlier estimate of 1% growth as the ONS received more data in recent weeks. 

Economists polled by Reuters had expected the growth rate to remain at 1%. 

In 2020, gross domestic product fell by 9.8% from 2019, only slightly less sharp than an initial estimate of a 9.9% slump. 

The UK economy suffered the biggest drop of all countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development except for Argentina and Spain last year, OECD data has shown. 

Britain's economy remained 7.3% smaller than before the pandemic, in inflation-adjusted terms, the second biggest drop among eight major economies listed by the ONS. 

But in nominal terms - which is affected less by differences in the way countries compile the data - Britain stood middle of the pack. 

Data also showed households were sitting on a big pile savings that the Bank of England thinks will fuel a jump in spending as the government lifts restrictions on the economy between now and late June. 

The savings ratio rose to 16.1% from 14.3% in the third quarter and for 2020 as a whole it hit a record high of 16.3%, compared with 6.8% in 2019. 

Separate data showed Britain's current account deficit widened to £26.3 billion in the fourth quarter, almost double the shortfall in the third quarter, as firms rushed to import goods before the January 1 start to the country's less open trade relationship with the European Union. 

But the deficit - a long-standing concern for investors because it leaves Britain reliant on foreign inflows of cash - came in below forecasts of £33 billion in the Reuters poll. 

It was equivalent to 4.8% of GDP, or 4.2% excluding volatile movements of precious metals such as gold.