Investment in machinery seen up 8% in '05

Investment in industrial equipment and machinery is expected to grow 8% to NIS 11.5 billion year-over-year, marking a slowdown from 9.8% in 2004, the Manufacturers Association of Israel said on Thursday. However, it said that in the second quarter, investment expanded 14% to NIS 2.9b. after increasing just 6% in the prior three-month period. Bank of Israel governor Stanley Fischer has identified increased investment as important for economic growth, saying last month that it was "good news" that the general recovery hadn't been accompanied by a recovery in total investment, which he expects to take place next year. The increase in the growth rates of industrial investment parallels that of gross domestic product, which grew 3.5% in the first quarter and 6.4% in the second quarter. Spending by companies in mixed-traditional technology industries in the three months from April through June grew almost a third, while businesses in the mixed-technology sector boosted spending by 21%, signaling a recovery from 3% growth in the prior quarter. Investment by traditional technology firms climbed 10% though hi-tech expenditure increased only 5%, signaling a slowdown in growth from the prior three months.