Belgium: Economy sustains momentum in Q4 2019
The economy grew 0.4% quarter-on-quarter in seasonally- and calendar-adjusted terms in the fourth quarter of last year, matching the expansion recorded in the third quarter according to a second estimate released by the National Bank of Belgium (NBB) on 28 February. On an annual basis, growth fell to 1.2% in Q4 from 1.6% in the previous quarter. Taking the year as a whole, the economy grew 1.4% in 2019, slightly below 2018’s 1.5% expansion.
In the fourth quarter, an uptick in inventories, which contributed 0.1 percentage point to overall growth after a null contribution in Q3, offset slightly weaker domestic demand. Private consumption growth moderated from Q3’s over one-year high (Q4: +0.5% quarter-on-quarter seasonally-adjusted; Q3: +0.7% qoq s.a.), while fixed investment growth nearly stagnated (Q4: +0.1% qoq s.a.; Q3: +0.4% qoq s.a.) amid lackluster sentiment in the construction and services sectors. On the upside, government spending grew 1.1% in Q4, up from Q3’s 0.5% expansion.
On the external front, exports rose 0.6% in Q4, rebounding from the 0.4% contraction in the previous quarter. Similarly, imports bounced back, likely amid rising inventories (Q4: +0.9% qoq s.a.; Q3: -0.3% qoq s.a.). Taken together, the external sector subtracted 0.2 percentage points from overall growth in Q4, more than the 0.1 percentage-point deduction in Q3.