Belgium: Second release confirms Q3 acceleration
November 29, 2019
A second national accounts estimate released by the National Bank of Belgium (NBB) on 29 November confirmed economic activity accelerated in the third quarter. GDP growth came in at 0.4% quarter-on-quarter in seasonally-adjusted terms, up from the 0.3% qoq s.a. expansion recorded in the second quarter. The print also overshot analysts’ expectations and marked the quickest expansion this year. On an annual basis, growth quickened to 1.6% from 1.3% in the second quarter.
Although domestic activity eased in Q3, it surpassed expectations thanks to surprisingly resilient private consumption, which expanded at the fastest pace in three years (Q3: +0.6% quarter-on-quarter seasonally-adjusted; Q2: +0.4% qoq s.a.). Conversely, government spending eased in Q3 (Q3: +0.5% qoq s.a.; Q2: +0.7% qoq s.a.), while fixed investment almost stagnated after markedly accelerating in the previous quarter (Q3: +0.3% qoq s.a.; Q2: +1.5% qoq s.a.).
Meanwhile, despite the wider European pullback in Q3, the external sector weighed less on the overall expansion than in Q2. Although exports contracted 0.9% qoq s.a., (Q2: +0.4% qoq s.a.), a parallel fall in imports (Q3: -0.8% qoq s.a.; Q2: +0.7% qoq s.a.) cushioned the downturn somewhat. Taken together, the external sector subtracted 0.1 percentage points from growth, less than the 0.3 percentage points subtracted in Q2.
Author: Nicolás J. Aguilar, Economist