Economic situation remains favourable

The picture of the economic situation at the end of April was about the same as at the end of March. The heart of the indicators in the Business Cycle Tracer is again 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.

Consumer confidence fell slightly in April, the indicator dropped from -9 in March to -12 in April. Manufacturers were considerably less optimistic than in preceding months. Business service providers expecting more orders and a higher turnover in the next three months outnumbered those anticipating a decline, but their preponderance is diminishing.

In February, manufacturing production was almost 1 percent up on last year. The volume of exports of goods was 8 percent up on February 2007. The growth rate of the volume of exports in the first months of 2008 was higher than in the last quarter of 2007. Consumption growth was also high, household spending increased by 3.1 percent in February.

Capital market interest averaged 4.0 percent in March, 0.1 percentage points lower than in February. March’s inflation rate of 2.2 percent was the same as in February. At 9.9 percent, selling prices in manufacturing industry were substantially higher than twelve months previously, for the fifth time in a row.

Seasonally adjusted unemployment was slightly lower in the period January-March. 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)