The economic picture at the end of April is slightly better than that at the end of March. This is mainly because the Dutch manufacturing industry is now operating at full steam. The heart of the indicators in the Business Cycle Tracer is deeper again in the heart of 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 improved slightly in April. The mood indicator among manufacturers has remained consistently high. The majority of the business service providers expected to receive more orders and to generate a higher turnover in the second quarter of this year.
Dutch manufacturing industry is still thriving. Manufacturing production in February was 6 percent up on last year. The volume of exports of goods was 9 percent higher. Compared to February 2006, household spending has risen slightly in February.
The capital market interest rate changed only marginally in March. Inflation rose by 0.3 of a percentage point to 1.8 percent. Selling prices in the manufacturing industry were 1.7 percent up. Price increases over the last seven months range between 1 and 2 percent.
Unemployment remained stable at 379 thousand in the period January-March, almost equalling the average in the preceding two three-month periods. In previous periods, however, seasonally adjusted unemployment decreased substantially. In the fourth quarter, there was a continuous rise in the number of jobs, the number of hours worked in temp jobs and the number of vacancies.
Gross domestic product (GDP)