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IMF gives optimistic view of UK economy, reversing criticism of government's strategy

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde, left, arrives with Britain's Chancellor George Osborne for a press conference at the HM Treasury, in London, Friday, June 6, 2014. The International Monetary Fund will publish the UK’s 2014 Article IV Concluding Statement, the Article IV is the IMF’s regular bilateral surveillance of the UK economy and the government’s policies. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

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International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde, left, arrives with Britain's Chancellor George Osborne for a press conference at the HM Treasury, in London, Friday, June 6, 2014. The International Monetary Fund will publish the UK’s 2014 Article IV Concluding Statement, the Article IV is the IMF’s regular bilateral surveillance of the UK economy and the government’s policies. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

LONDON - The International Monetary Fund on Friday delivered an optimistic assessment of Britain's economic strategy, a sharp reversal from last year, when it criticized the Conservative-led government's focus on budget austerity.

The report wraps up the IMF's annual economic inspection with the conclusion that the economy has rebounded and growth is more balanced. Last year, the IMF made headlines when it criticized Chancellor George Osborne's plans to reduce debt quickly, at the expense of economic growth.

The cheery new report noted that growth had accelerated, inflation had fallen and that leading indicators suggested that the recovery had gained momentum.

There was a warning about rising house prices, particularly in London. It also singled out concern about low productivity growth. It says both present risks to the recovery.

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