Economic index drops 1.1% in February

Downturn for seventh consecutive month points to deepening recession.

bank of israel 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
bank of israel 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The country's main index of economic indicators dropped for a seventh consecutive month in February, down 1.1 percent, led by a decline in imports and exports, the Bank of Israel reported Thursday. "The drop in the index and the declines in the last few months indicate a continuation of the economy's drift toward a recession, whose first signs became evident in the last quarter of 2008," the central bank said in its report. "The increased severity of the economic situation is reflected in the fact that most of the components of the index dropped, particularly imports and exports of goods. On the other hand, the index of trade and services revenue rose a little." The decline of the February composite state-of-the-economy index compares with a revised drop of 1% in January. The fall in the February index was led by a 5.6% plunge in the imports of goods index, following a drop of 0.7% the previous month, the report said. The exports of goods index was down 3.4% in February after declining 1.6% in January. The exports of services index dropped 0.6% last month after falling 2.3% in January. The manufacturing production index, which lags one month, fell 1.1% in January after an increase of 0.8% in December. The trade and services revenue index rose 0.3% in January after falling 5% in December. Figures published by the Central Bureau of Statistics on Thursday showed that in the November to January period, revenue indices in the trade and services industries plunged 11.7% in annual terms. The largest drop in revenue during the three-month period was 32.2% in the financial services and insurance sector. The smallest drop in revenue was 2.9% in the food and hospitality industry. The bureau also reported Thursday that growth in industrial production dropped 3.2% in annual terms from November to January. Not including hi-tech, the growth rate in industrial production fell 10.3% during the same period. The growth rate in industrial production in the mixed-traditional technology sectors - rubber, plastics, metal goods, jewelry - plunged 16.5% in the November to January period. The number of full-time positions in the manufacturing sector fell 2.6% in annual terms in the same period, compared with a decline of 2.2% in the August to October period last year, the bureau reported. The largest drop in jobs was 7.5% in the mixed-traditional technology sector.