Slovak GDP Grew Record 14.1% in Fourth Quarter

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Slovak GDP Grew Record 14.1% in Fourth Quarter

Slovakia's economy expanded a record 14.1 percent in the fourth quarter, the fastest pace in the European Union, as cigarette makers raised production before a tax increase and exports rose.

Gross domestic product growth follows a 9.4 percent advance in the previous three-month period, the Slovak Statistical Office said today in Bratislava, Slovakia, citing preliminary figures. The result exceeds the 8.9 percent median estimate of 12 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

Growth in Slovakia, which plans to adopt the euro in 2009, has been soaring since last year after newly built factories by carmakers PSA Peugeot Citroen, Kia Motors Corp. and their suppliers increased production and hired more people. The fourth- quarter result was also influenced by stockpiling of cigarettes before an increase in an excise tax came into effect in January.

Stripping off the effect of the stockpiling, growth would have reached 9.7 percent, the office said. The pace was also driven by exporters, who shipped more products abroad, the office said in a handout to journalists.

The office reported today the number of people with jobs rose 2.3 percent from the same period 2006.

Economists including Juraj Valachy at Tatra Banka AS expected GDP growth to slow from the third quarter after inflation accelerated and the largest exporters held companywide vacations during the Christmas holiday season. The final report, which will include a breakdown of growth, is scheduled for March 4.

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