Bleaker economic outlook

The economic outlook for the Netherlands grew slightly worse in April. The second estimate of the economic growth rate in the fourth quarter of 2001 stands at 0.4%, the lowest growth rate since the first quarter of 1993.

A number of service industries were hit by the economic slowdown in the fourth quarter. Data from the economic survey on service industries show that this continued in force in the first quarter of 2002. The slowdown in industrial production is not over yet, although the decrease in the first two months of this year was not as large as at the end of last year. Producer confidence expressed by the industrial entrepreneurs has been recovering during the early months of 2002.

The labour market became less tense because of the slow economic growth rate. This is shown by the continued decrease in the number of vacancies and a further levelling off in the job growth rate. There has not been much change in the number of unemployed in the first quarter. Household consumption increased by 1.8% in January, which is in line with last year’s growth rate average. Consumer confidence continues to fall. In April the confidence index was down 5 points on March. The inflation rate in March fell for the third consecutive month. The yield on government bonds, an indicator for the long-term interest rate, increased by 0.7% between December last year until mid- April to 5.1%.

(source: Statistics Netherlands)

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