The Swiss economy unexpectedly expanded in the fourth quarter, bolstered by strong private consumption and foreign trade, data released by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, or SECO, showed Thursday.
The gross domestic product rose 0.1 percent quarter-on-quarter during the fourth quarter compared with economists' expectations for a 0.1 percent contraction. The third quarter growth rate was upwardly revised to 0.3 percent from the 0.2 percent expansion estimated earlier.
Positive contribution to growth came from gross fixed investments, private consumption as well as trade balance for goods, SECO said.
Annually, GDP rose 1.3 percent, faster than the 1.1 percent growth expected by economists. This followed an upwardly revised 1.6 percent growth for the third quarter.
From the production perspective, value additions in the banking sector, insurances, real estate, IT and research and development all made positive contributions to growth, while industry made a negative contribution to growth, the report noted.
On the expenditure side, consumer spending grew at a faster quarterly pace of 0.4 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis. On the other hand, total private domestic investment declined 7.9 percent after the 5.3 percent increase in the previous period.
Exports of goods and services rose 1.2 percent from the preceding three months, while imports fell 1.9 percent. The positive trade outcome defied external headwinds faced by the economy, particularly from the Eurozone debt crisis.
In December, SECO slashed the country's GDP forecasts citing deteriorating economic situation in Europe and the strong franc. The federal government's expert group lowered the gross domestic product forecast for the economy to 0.5 percent in 2012 from its 0.9 percent growth forecast in September.
The GDP growth for 2013 is seen at 1.9 percent.
Switzerland's leading economic indicator published by the KOF economic institute yesterday signaled that over the coming months the GDP may experience a slight contraction on year-on-year basis.
by RTT Staff Writer
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