Economic growth amounted to 5.7% in the third quarter and to 5.8% in the first nine months, announced the National Statistics Institute (INS) on Friday, due to the higher than expected growth of the services sector (8%) and also of net taxes (10%). Compared with the middle of the year, the economy maintained its growth rate - in the second quarter Gross Domestic Product increased by 5.6% and by 5.8% in the first half.
The economy has now exceeded the expectations of experts, who had estimated 5% growth in the third quarter and 5.
5% growth in the first nine months, according to a poll conducted by ZF on 18 analysts and officials.
The growth of GDP above analysts' expectations has also driven the appreciation of the RON, as well as the increase of the capital market. The exchange rate calculated by the National Bank of Romania on Friday fell below 3.5 RON/ EUR for the first time in ten days, as the interbank forex market had reacted to the positive news about the economic growth level. At the same time, the Bucharest Stock Exchange rose by 2.2% (BET-C) on Friday, while the BET index reached almost 3%. At the same time, SIF shares gained 2.6%. Of the 18 analysts polled by ZF at the beginning of last week, only two were close to the official figures released by the National Statistics Institute: Rozalia Pal, senior economist of UniCredit Tiriac Bank (who estimated 5.8% for the third quarter and for the first nine months) and Dorin Mantescu, budgetary revenue manager with the Economy and Finance Ministry (5.7% in the third quarter and for the first nine months). "Economy continues a steady growth process, as a result of the expansion in constructions, industry and services.
Despite uncertainties in the international financial system, the economy will continue to grow at a steady rate, because it has sound macroeconomic foundations, except for the current account deficit, which is the most troublesome," Dorin Mantescu explained to ZF. He says the economy is unlikely to growth by 6.1% (the official forecast for the entire 2007) this year, but the actual rate will be very close to the 5.9%-6% forecast.
What exactly upset analysts' calculations? Although INS did not publish the GDP breakdown by sectors, the data is already available on the official website of Eurostat, the official statistics unit of the European Union. According to the data, the services (which account for the bulk of GDP) were the surprise, after they advanced significantly by 8% against the 6.3% rate in the first half of the year.
Agriculture, on the other hand, fell according to the analysts' expectations, that is by 23.8% in the third quarter. Industry slowed down, with a 5.1% growth in the third quarter (from 5.9% in the first half), while constructions broke all previous records, and increased by 37.4% in the third quarter (compared with 31.6% in H1).