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SA's GDP grows by 1.4%

South Africa's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) came in lower than expected, increasing by 1.4% in the third quarter of 2011.
"The seasonally adjusted real GDP at market prices for the third quarter of 2011 increased by an annualised rate of 1.4% compared with an increase of 1.3% in the second quarter of 2011," said Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) on Tuesday, 29 November.

A Bloomberg survey had expected that GDP would come in at 1.9% in the third quarter.

The finance, real estate and business services, wholesale, retail and motor trade, catering and accommodation industry as well as general government services were the main contributors to the increase.

The third quarter showed a sharp fall in mining (down by 17.4% quarter-on-quarter) as well as a fall in manufacturing (down by 1.9% quarter-on-quarter). Stats SA's Gerhardt Bouwer attributed the fall in mining to strike action.

Standard Bank had expected the GDP to come at 1.6% quarter on-quarter, with senior economist at the bank, Thabi Leoka, saying the mining and manufacturing sectors had been significantly disappointing, continuing to struggle through the year.

"We think they will remain negative next year. They will undermine growth seeing that they are export driven," she explained, adding that in the current sluggish global growth these sectors were unlikely to turn a corner as quickly.

Leoka said there could be some pick-up in December when consumers are expected to spend over the holidays. However, consumers are "slightly cautious".

The agricultural sector in the third quarter showed a fall of 4.3%. "The agricultural sector has posted negative growth in all three quarters and is likely to remain in negative territory for the remainder of the year," said Leoka.

Standard Bank said the challenges to GDP growth remained external in the face of Europe's debt crisis that undermines demand for exports and output for mining.

Leoka added that slower growth (GDP) will make it difficult for government to reach its target of creating 5 million jobs by 2020.

According to Nedbank economists, economic activity is likely to improve slightly in the final quarter with the domestic trade and services industries providing momentum supported by a relatively resilient consumer.

"Although consumers are becoming more cautious and confidence appears fragile, growing disposable income and low interest rates will probably buoy spending through the festive season."

The bank said the outlook for 2012 is becoming cloudy with problems in Europe intensifying.

"The market and the Reserve Bank largely anticipated subdued growth for the third quarter. While the figures will not surprise, they will also not provide comfort," said Nedbank.

According to Stats SA, real annual GDP increased by 2.9% in 2010 following a decrease of 1.5% (revised from a decrease of 1.7%) in 2009.

SOURCE is a South African government news service, published by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS). (formerly BuaNews) was established to provide quick and easy access to articles and feature stories aimed at keeping the public informed about the implementation of government mandates.
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