Growth in GDP helps Scotland's economy avoid recession
Scotland's economy has avoided slipping into recession, with latest figures showing that gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.2% in the final three months of 2015.
The economy had shrunk by 0.1% in the third quarter, revised figures revealed.
Recession, which is classed as two consecutive quarters of negative growth, was avoided when figures for the final quarter of the year showed an improvement.
The figures, from Scotland's Chief Statistician, also showed GDP for the period October to December was up by 0.9% on the same period in 2014.
The service sector, which accounts for nearly three-quarters of the economy, grew by 0.3% in the last three months of 2015 while the construction sector expanded by 0.1%.
However, in the same period the production sector of the economy shrunk by 0.1%
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: " The figures do not reflect what the SNP are telling us about Scotland's economy. They show that Scotland is lagging behind growth in other parts of the UK on the SNP's watch.
"This demonstrates why it is so important that we invest in skills for the future. We know that businesses are still struggling to get the skilled staff they need to grow.
"Liberal Democrat penny-for-education plans would raise half a billion pounds investment for our schools and colleges to help close the stubborn skills gap."
Energy and enterprise minister Fergus Ewing said: " Today's figures show Scotland's economy grew by 1.9% in 2015 despite continuing challenges for our energy sector given the impact of the lower oil price and a period of significant challenge for our key export markets.
"Today's figures also show that Scottish GDP per head grew by 1.6% in 2015, which compares to UK GDP per capita growth of 1.5%.
"It is welcome that the economy is continuing to grow despite significant challenges - the growth in the service sector, which accounts for around three-quarters of our economic output, is particularly welcome.
"Scotland's economy has prospered with the SNP, despite the huge global economic challenges which have emerged since coming to office."