Thursday, April 1, 2010

Romania Probably Had ‘Modest’ First-Quarter Growth, Popa Says

By Irina Savu

March 31 (Bloomberg) -- Romania probably had “modest” economic growth in the first quarter as international demand for its industrial goods picked up, Deputy central bank Governor Cristian Popa said.

“The figure we see is modest and positive, but we’re talking about a main scenario with uncertainties on both sides,” Popa told reporters on the sidelines of a central bank seminar in Bucharest today. “I’m cautiously optimistic.”

Romania suffered its worst recession in at least 20 years in 2009 as booms in construction and commerce collapsed. The slump wiped out gains made in 2008, when the economy grew 7.1 percent, the fastest pace in the European Union. Shrinking revenue and pressure on the leu forced the government to turn last April to international lenders for a bailout package.

The economic decline slowed to 6.5 percent in the fourth- quarter from a year earlier after a 7.1 percent decline in the previous three months, the National Statistics Institute said on March 3. The institute will release preliminary first-quarter GDP data on May 12.

The government predicts the economy will exit the recession as early as this quarter and grow by 1.3 percent this year. IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn predicted yesterday during a one-day trip to Romania that the economy will expand as much as 2 percent in 2010.

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