New official figures show Britain’s economy contracted in the third quarter of this year.That was completely at odds with what economists were expecting and dashed hopes the downturn is ending in the UK. Gross domestic product fell by 0.4 percent between July and September. The UK economy has now shrunk for six successive quarters; it is the first time that has happened since records began in 1955. Economists had already expected industrial output to be weak, but the services sector, which makes up three quarters of Britain’s economy, also fell by 0.2 percent over the quarter. With Japan, Germany and France having all pulled out of recession earlier in the year, and economists expecting the US to have returned to growth in the third quarter, the UK may be the only major economy to have contracted in that period.