Budapest, February 12 (MTI) – Hungarian economic growth has proved to be balanced and stable, and it is expected that the growth rate in the first quarter this year will reach 3 percent, Economy Minister Mihály Varga said on Friday, in response to a Central Statistical Office release showing that economic output grew by an annual 2.9 percent in 2015, while in the final quarter of the year GDP expanded by 3.2 percent year on year.
Varga told public television M1 that the positive performance on industry was the main reason for last year’s favourable data.
Following last December’s strong growth figure, it is expected that 2016 will continue last year’s good form, he added.
The government’s strategy and the effects of reforms are showing, he said. The structure of the economy has changed. It is more balanced and growth is healthier, while industry is more dominant, Varga said.
Based on calendar-year adjusted data, economic growth was an annual 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter last year.
Compared with the previous quarter, GDP expanded by 1.0 percent, based on seasonally and calendar-year adjusted data.
KSH statistician Zsuzsanna Boros Szőkené said that with the exception of the farm and construction sectors, all sectors contributed to growth. The former contracted while the latter rather levelled out, she said.
Industry remained the engine for GDP growth but output growth, she said. Whereas vehicle manufacturing had dominated now growth has extended to almost all branches of industry, Szőke said. Activity picked up in the majority of services, too, in the fourth quarter of 2015, she added.
Analysts told MTI that the GDP growth came in above all expectations.
Senior analyst of ING Bank Andras Balatoni said the 3.2 percent GDP growth in the last quarter of 2015 which resulted in 2.9 percent annual increase for the whole of 2015 was above the expectations and represented the second highest figure since 2007 after growth of 3.7 percent in 2014.
CIB Bank analysts also noted the higher than expected growth, well above the market consensus of 2.5-2.6 percent. Better-than-expected results in several sectors contributed to the higher than expected GDP growth, they added.
Erste Bank senior analyst Gergely Urmossy said the figure was higher than their projections. A slowdown is expected this year and annual 2016 growth is likely to be 2.2 percent, mostly as a result of household consumption, he said.
Think-tank Századvég said the GDP data outstripped expectations in the fourth quarter. The expansion on the supply side likely came from industry and services, while the demand side derived from mainly net exports and consumption, though it would not be a surprise to find more positive investment performance either, Szazadveg’s researchers said, noting that the detailed figures have yet to be released.