Israel’s real economic growth slowed to an annualized rate of 2.1 percent in the first three months of 2014, according to data the Central Bureau of Statistics released Sunday.
That figure is down from 2.9% growth the previous quarter, and similar to the 1.9% growth the quarter before that. It is a far cry from the 5% to 6% growth that both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid said the economy was capable of. It is also lower than the 3.1% growth the Bank of Israel projected for the year.
The main drag was a drop in investment, which plummeted an annualized 14.4%.
It was also held back by decreases consumption – the amount everyone spends on goods and services – which fell at an annualized 6% per capita.
People spent 40.2% less on durable household goods such as refrigerators, washing machines and air conditioning units than in the previous quarter.
While exports of goods and services grew at a healthy 6.3%, business output rose just 0.4%.
As always, the CBS warned that the figures were preliminary, and could fluctuate greatly as it incorporated new data and revised them in the coming months.
“Our view at the current point of time is that this is not a change in the trend,” said Harel Investment’s Ofer Klein. “There are many positive indicators that have been published of late that support continued growth in Israel and the world, including labor market data, business and consumer confidence, and government tax revenues that indicate continuing at a reasonable level.”
The weak data may open the possibility of an interest rate drop later in the year, Klein added.
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