Monday, November 9, 2009

Romania industry, trade point to mild 2010 growth

By Marius Zaharia

BUCHAREST, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Romania's industrial output showed its best annual result since October 2008 and the trade deficit in September was the highest this year, data showed on Monday, signalling prospects for mild economic growth in 2010.

Adjusted industrial output was up 1.3 percent on the month in September, recording the first monthly rise since April, and fell 4 percent on the year, helped by an improvement in demand from the euro zone.

Trade data showed the deficit shrinking by 61 percent on the year in the first nine months, with imports diving much more than exports on an annual basis. But September's deficit was the largest this year, showing Romanians' consumption was growing.

Combined with a low base effect from the months marking the height of the global economic crisis, it pointed to a trend that could lead to mild growth in 2010.

'Industrial production is ... the GDP branch which we trust will pull up the economy and will contribute to economic growth being in 2010 over zero,' said Rozalia Pal of UniCredit Tiriac Bank.

The International Monetary Fund, which has suspended vital aid for Romania until the country forms a government, ends a political crisis, and passes key cost-cutting reforms, expects the economy to grow by 0.5 percent next year.

While the financing interruption will complicate Romania's recovery, a revival of external demand is expected to compensate, analysts said.

Some analysts said the figures showed a chance for quarter-on-quarter growth in the last three months of 2009, while others thought the economy would pull out of recession about six months after the euro zone.

A Reuters poll last week showed the euro zone economy likely bounced out of recession in the third quarter.

Its recovery is expected to have helped temper painful drops in production across central and Eastern Europe, by stimulus spending among euro zone governments that have boosted demand for goods produced in the cheaper, manufacturing-heavy states.

The gradual easing of production drops was also illustrated in export-dominated Slovakia, where parallel data showed industrial output fell by 5.2 percent on the year in September, far less than expected.

Yet there is concern a strong recovery will be hard to sustain as some economic stimuli are gradually withdrawn.

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