Economy grows faster than expected

GDP rose by an annualized 3% in the first quarter, which was above analysts' expectations.

The Israeli economy grew by 3% on an annualized basis in the first quarter of 2012, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported today. The growth rate was above the 2.5% growth predicted in a "Bloomberg" poll of analysts, GDP growth in the first quarter was nevertheless less than in the two preceding quarters: 3.2% in the fourth quarter of 2011 and 3.3% in the third quarter.

The Central Bureau of Statistics said that GDP growth in the first quarter was due to higher exports and imports of goods and services, and higher private consumption, investment in fixed assets, and modest growth in public spending.

The GDP growth report includes some worrying data, however. Business product growth fell to 2.8% in the first quarter from 3.5% in the preceding quarter and 4.5% in the third quarter of 2011. The figure highlights the slowdown in the business sector, the economy's growth engine.

Per capita expenditure on durable goods, reflecting Israel's standard of living, fell by an annualized 6.5% in the first quarter, after falling by 17.6% in the preceding quarter. Spending on household appliances, such as refrigerators, washing machines, and air conditioners, rose by an annualized 6.9% in the first quarter, after falling by an annualized 167.9% in the preceding quarter, and spending on private motor vehicles fell by an annualized 14.1% in the first quarter.

The good news is that, despite the worsening crisis in Europe, exports of goods and services rose by an annualized 14.2% in the first quarter, after falling by 0.2% in the preceding quarter. Exports of services rose by an annualized 45% in the first quarter (9.7% on a quarterly basis), and industrial exports, excluding diamonds, rose by 4.8%. Agricultural exports rose by an annualized 18.9% in the first quarter.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on May 16, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012

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