In Q4 2011, SA GDP rose by a solid 3.2%q/q, annualised (seasonally adjusted). This compares with a revised increase of 1.7%q/q in Q3 2011. The latest growth rate was slightly above market expectations, which was for a rise of 3.1%q/q. During 2011 as a whole the SA economy grew by respectable 3.1%.
The key aspects of the Q4 2011 improvement in GDP growth was a recovery in manufacturing activity (which contributed 0.6 percentage points to the quarterly growth rate) as well as the ongoing solid performance of the retail (including motor) trade sector (which contributed 0.7 percentage points to the quarterly growth rate). In contrast, the agricultural sector declined further during quarter, and was the only sector to record a negative outcome in Q4 2011.
The performance of each major sector of the economy in 2011 was as follows:
Retail trade 4.4%
Transport, communication 3.3%
Personal services 2.4%
Overall, South Africa has now experienced 10 consecutive quarters of positive growth, following the recession in 2008/2009. The growth rate/recovery over the past 10 quarters has actually been fairly reasonable, although retail trade (in the form of increased consumer spending) has played a dominant role.
As indicated before, recent economic data suggests that the SA economy could lose some momentum in 2012. This is partly reflected in a sharp slowdown of the SA leading economic indicator. For 2012, SA GDP growth is now forecast at 2.8%. The lower growth projection for 2012 anticipates a negative impact from the weak global economy, especially the Euro-area, as well as an erosion of some domestic consumer activity due to rising inflation. In contrast, activity in the financial sector is expected to broaden in 2012, while the construction sector is showing some signs of improvement, after a dismal 2010/2011.
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