Nov 30, 2012

Philippines - PHL economy surges 7.1% in third quarter, fastest growth in ASEAN

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Beating expectations, the domestic economy accelerated for the third consecutive quarter to 7.1 percent this year from the 3.2 percent last year, the National Statistical Coordination Board reported on Wednesday.

The third quarter growth was driven by the services sector with robust performances of the transport, storage and communication, financial intermediation, and real estate, renting and business activities, and supported by the five consecutive quarters of sustained accelerated growth of the industry and the seemingly weather-tolerant agriculture sector.

“We posted the fastest economic growth within ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations],” said Arsenio Balisacan, director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority, during a briefing on Wednesday.

NSCB data showed the comparative growth rates among the Philippines’ ASEAN peers as follows:

6.2 percent for Indonesia
5.2 percent for Malaysia
4.7 percent for Vietnam
3.0 percent for Thailand
0.3 percent for Singapore

“Our efforts at good governance are beginning to bear fruit. But we know that our task is far from over,” said Balisacan.

“With the upwardly revised second quarter gross domestic product (GDP) estimate, the growth for the first nine months of 2012 at 6.5 percent surpassed the upper end target of the 6.0 percent for the whole year,” Jose Ramon G. Albert, NSCB secretary-general, said in a separate statement.

On the demand side, increased consumer and government spending, increased investments in construction, and the third consecutive quarter of growth in external trade contributed to the highest quarterly growth since the third quarter of 2010, said Albert.

The stock market immediately went on “a feel good rally and was up 30 points from yesterday’s closing on this news, which the market already knows,” said Jonathan Ravelas, BDO Unibank market strategist.

The Philippine Stock Exchange index hit an intra-day, all-time high of 5,619.24, up 30 points  or 0.54 percent as of 10:27 a.m.

“I think this growth was already highlighted, but with this development we see expectations of over 6 percent GDP growth for the fourth quarter and overall for the year of 6.5 to 7 percent, at least,” said Ravelas.

“It’s really an upbeat economy,” he added.

The NSCB valued the third quarter output at P1.525 trillion at constant 2000 prices from P1.424 trillion a year earlier. The third quarter results bought the total output, as measured by the GDP, to P4.607 trillion in the first nine months of the year from P4.327 trillion in the same 2011 period.

"With projected population growing by 1.7 percent to 96.0 million, per capita GDP grew by 5.3 percent," Albert noted.

The third quarter growth not only surpassed the momentum set since the beginning of the year, it also exceeded the expectations for Philippine's fiscal performance, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad noted in a separate statement.

"Over the last 10 months, the Philippines demonstrated extraordinary fiscal strength, even in the face of a bleak global economy," said Abad.

"While we have always been confident in our ability to sustain our economic pace, the remarkable 7.1-percent growth in the third quarter is a resounding affirmation of the resilience of our fiscal position, especially when transparent, accountable, and participative governance lies at its foundation," he added.

With reports from Edgardo Tugade and Amanda  Fernandez/OMG/KG/HS, GMA News

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