The economy ground to a halt in the final months of the year as the extreme weather that blanketed the UK in snow took its toll. In the fourth quarter UK GDP contracted 0.5% compared with growth of 0.7% in the quarter before, according to newly published data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). ONS said the services and construction sectors had been particularly badly hit by the adverse weather that paralysed much of the UK. The weak performance comes as some economists warn the UK may be heading for a double-dip recession as rising inflation and public sector job cuts, the majority of which are still to come, stifle consumer spending.