Hungary’s first-quarter GDP grew by an annual 5.3 percent, the Central Statistical Office (KSH) said in a first reading of data on Wednesday.
The rate was above the 5.1 percent estimate by analysts polled by business news site Portfolio.
Market-based services, the construction sector and industry contributed the most to growth in the first quarter of 2019, the KSH said.
Adjusted for calendar year effects, GDP growth was an annual 5.3 percent in Q1, up from 4.9 percent in Q4. In a quarter-on-quarter comparison, growth increased by 1.5 percent in Q1 from 1.1 percent in Q4, adjusted for seasonal and calendar year effects.
Finance Minister: great data due to higher investments, export, rising wages
Finance Minister Mihály Varga said Hungary ranked among the top EU countries in terms of economic performance. He told a press conference after the data release that the 5.3 percent growth in the first three months was due largely to higher investments and exports, solid employment and rising wages.
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Despite the slowdown in the global economy, exports had continued to grow to both European and non-European markets, he said, adding that the government expects the economy to grow by 4.1 percent this year and next, supported by strong industrial output, investment growth and a pick-up in earnings and domestic demand.
Analysts: fresh data put Hungary top end of EU performers
Analysts told MTI a gradual slowdown was expected in the coming quarters.
Gergely Suppan of Takarékbank noted that output, especially of the construction industry, had sped up at a fast clip and the acceleration of retail sales showed consumption was still strong. The decline in the foreign trade balance weakened economic output to a lesser extent due to peppy industrial production.
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Péter Virovácz of ING Bank said Hungary’s economy was still performing well and the fresh data put Hungary at the top end of EU performers. Still, growth could lose its momentum for the full year of 2019, he added.
Gábor Regős of the Századvég economic research institute said Hungarian economic expansion had taken place within a less positive external environment, especially when it came to Hungary’s main export destination, Germany. Based on today’s data, he forecast growth of just above 4 percent for the full year.
Hungary’s updated Convergence Programme targets GDP growth in 2019 of 4 percent.
In the featured photo: Finance Minister Mihály Varga. Photo by Tamás Kovács/MTI