Belgium: Fixed investment underpins tepid growth in Q4 2018
February 28, 2019
Belgium’s economy grew 0.3% quarter-on-quarter and in seasonally-adjusted terms in the fourth quarter of last year (Q3 2018: +0.3% quarter-on-quarter s.a.), according to a comprehensive estimate released by the National Bank of Belgium (NBB) on 28 February. The modest reading fell just short of analysts’ expectations. On an annual basis, growth eased to 1.2% from 1.6% in the third quarter. Full-year growth, moreover, was estimated at 1.4%, down from 1.7% in 2017.
Fourth-quarter growth was almost entirely thanks to a pick-up in fixed investment, which jumped 2.6% quarter-on-quarter and in seasonally-adjusted terms (Q3: -0.1% qoq s.a.) on significantly stronger business investment, as well as on housing investment. Household spending, meanwhile, slumped 0.3% (Q3: -0.2% qoq s.a.) in line with tepid consumer confidence and despite low unemployment and impressive wage growth. Government spending, too, fell (Q4: -0.2% qoq s.a.; Q3: +0.1% qoq s.a.).
Net exports, for their part, ate into growth somewhat. Export growth slowed to 0.8% (Q3: +1.4% qoq s.a.) amid the slowdown across the Eurozone, and especially in Germany and France. Import growth, meanwhile, held steady at 1.1% (Q3: +1.1% qoq s.a.).