Economy slightly less positive

The picture of the economic situation at the end of March was slightly less positive than at the end of February. The heart of the indicators in the Business Cycle Tracer is still located in the high economic growth stage. All indicators in the Tracer, except consumer confidence, are performing better than their long-term average.

Dutch economic growth was 4.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007, the highest growth rate for well over seven years. The fourth quarter had one working day more, however. After adjustment for seasonal effects, GDP volume grew by 1.2 percent compared with the third quarter of 2007.

After February’s considerable decline, consumer confidence remained virtually unchanged in March. Manufacturers were less optimistic in March than in preceding months. Business service providers expecting more orders and a higher turnover in the next three months amply outnumbered those anticipating a decline.

Household spending rose by 1.9 percent in January, compared with the same month one year previously. Manufacturing production was 2 percent up on last year. The volume of exports of goods was 10 percent up on January 2007.

In February, selling prices in the manufacturing industry were well over 9 percent higher than in February 2007. Capital market interest averaged 4.1 percent and equalled January’s interest rate. Inflation increased further and was 2.2 percent in February.

Seasonally adjusted unemployment remained the same in the period December-February. The number of job vacancies in the fourth quarter equalled the record level in the third quarter. The number of hours worked in temp jobs also rose in the fourth quarter, but more slowly. Job growth continued further in the fourth quarter of 2007, though the growth rate was slightly less than in preceding quarters.

Gross domestic product (GDP)

Gross domestic product (GDP)