Economic situation more favourable as manufacturing industry surges ahead

Relative to the preceding months, the picture of the economic situation improved further at the end of February. This is mainly due to soaring manufacturing output. The heart of the indicators in the Business Cycle Tracer is located deeper again in the high economic growth stage, which means that the growth rate of most indicators is increasing and above their long-term average.

In the fourth quarter, the volume of the gross domestic product (GDP) was 2.7 percent up on one year previously. This almost equalled the economic growth rate in the third quarter. However, the fourth quarter of 2006 had one working day fewer than the same period in 2005. After adjustment for seasonal effects, GDP volume grew by 0.6 percent compared with the third quarter. This quarter-on-quarter growth rate is almost equal to the average in the first three quarters of 2006.

Consumer confidence remained invariably high in March. Manufacturers were somewhat less optimistic, but the producer confidence index remained high. The majority of the business service providers expected to receive more orders and to generate a higher turnover in the first quarter of this year.

Manufacturing production in January was almost 5 percent up on last year. After correction for working day effects, the volume of exports of goods was 9 percent up on January 2006. Household spending has risen slightly.

The capital market interest rate remained stable in February. Inflation rose by 0.1 of a percentage point to 1.5 percent. In January, selling prices in the manufacturing industry rose marginally, they were 0.7 percent higher than in January 2006. This is the smallest increase in almost three years.

Unemployment remained stable at 380 thousand in the period December-February. In the fourth quarter, there was a continuous rise in the number jobs, the number of hours worked in temp jobs and the number of vacancies.

Gross domestic product (GDP)

Gross domestic product (GDP)