Austria: Economic activity expands in first quarter
May 15, 2012
In the first quarter, GDP expanded a seasonally and working-day adjusted 0.2% over the previous quarter, according to a preliminary flash estimate released by the Austrian Institute of Economic Research (WIFO) on 15 May. The reading contrasted the revised flat growth rate recorded in the fourth quarter (previously reported: -0.1% quarter-on-quarter). On a year-on-year comparison, GDP accelerated from a revised 0.8% increase in the fourth quarter (previously reported: +1.2% yoy) to a 1.9% expansion in the first. The acceleration seen in the first quarter was propelled by strong external demand, buttressed by healthy growth in the country's main export partner, Germany. Exports of goods and services increased 0.7% over the previous quarter, which nearly doubled the 0.4% expansion recorded in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile imports grew 0.5% in the first three-month period, following an expansion of the same magnitude in the last quarter of 2011. On the domestic front, private consumption weakened somewhat over the previous quarter (Q4 2011: +0.3% qoq; Q1 2012: +0.2% qoq), while government spending improved slightly (Q4 2011: 0.0% qoq; Q1 2012: +0.1% qoq). Moreover, gross fixed investment expanded 0.4% in Q1, which was half the growth rate recorded in Q4. In its latest bi-annual economic outlook report December, the Central Bank expects the economy to expand 0.7% this year. For 2013, the Bank sees economic growth picking up to 1.6%.
Author: Ricardo Aceves, Senior Economist