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Romania's National Institute of Statistics confirmed today that 4Q12 GDP gained a minor 0.3% y/y, but marginally increased the economic advance for the whole year to 0.3% (+0.2% in the flash estimate), after revising the data for 2011.
On the expenditure side, the picture was mixed in 4Q12. Households consumption rebounded, adding 0.8% to GDP, but gross fixed capital formation tipped over into negative territory, knocking a high 1.2% off GDP. In line with our assumption, inventories and external demand (net exports) both delivered positive contributions to GDP in 4Q12 of 0.4% and 0.3%, respectively, preventing the economy from slipping below zero in the last quarter of the year and even in the whole year 2012. Public consumption was flat in 4Q12, as the cabinet had to step off the gas in terms of public spending, so as to meet the challenging budget deficit agreed with the IMF and EU.
On the resource side, industry remained a negative contributor in 4Q12, taking a hit from the flagging Eurozone, while agriculture subtracted 1.1% of quarterly GDP, as production tumbled considerably. Trade & services and net indirect taxes shored up 4Q12 GDP, adding a combined 2% to GDP and helping the economy to keep its head above water in the last quarter.
Summing up the data for the whole 2012, domestic demand was the main upward driver behind the feeble economic growth of 0.3%, while external demand made a negative contribution. We see the Romanian economy inching up about 1% in 2013, while trailing behind its potential, now estimated at 1.6%. The cabinets decision to hike public wages and pensions as of January 2013 and perhaps further increases in the second half of the year could help private consumption get a second wind.
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