Belgium: Economy returns to growth in first quarter
May 2, 2012
In the first quarter, GDP rose a seasonally and calendar-adjusted 0.3% over the previous quarter, according to a preliminary flash estimate released by the National Bank of Belgium on 2 May. The quarterly reading contrasted the 0.1% contraction observed in the fourth quarter and overshot market expectations that had economic activity recording zero growth. In addition, GDP growth for the third quarter of 2011 was revised upwards to a flat reading from a 0.1% quarter-on-quarter contraction, thus evading technical recession in the second half last year. Compared to the same period last year, GDP grew 0.5% in the first quarter, which was weaker than the revised 1.2% expansion registered in the fourth (previously reported: +1.0% year-on-year). In the wake of government's decision to impose further austerity measures in order to meet its budget-deficit target of 2.8% of GDP for this year, the Federal Planning Bureau expects the economy to expand only 0.1% in 2012. In contrast, the National Bank of Belgium predicts that the economy will contract 0.1% this year.
Author: Ricardo Aceves, Senior Economist