The coal miners' strike (which lasted from 9th January to 27th February and seriously curtailed power supplies in the second half of February) reduced domestic economic activity in the first quarter of 1972. It also obscured underlying developments in the three months from February to April with which this Commentary is mainly concerned. In line with the Government's policy of economic expansion, the money stock again rose rapidly, helped by a continued fast increase in bank lending to the private sector. But, so far as can be judged, demand was weakening before the Budget: consumers' expenditure was sluggish and exports fell. Domestic output too was still subdued and unemployment continued to rise, though probably more slowly than hitherto. In his Budget therefore the Chancellor took as his objective an increase from 3% to 5% in the expected annual rate of growth between the second half of 1971 and the first half of 1973.