By Steven Scheer
JERUSALEM, March 9 Israel's economy grew at an
annualised 6.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016, faster
than anticipated, government data showed on Thursday, citing
higher exports, investment and consumer spending at the end of
In its preliminary estimate last month, the Central Bureau
of Statistics said gross domestic product grew 6.2 percent,
above expectations of 3.7 percent growth.
After starting off 2016 slowly, growth picked up and
Israel's economy grew 4.0 percent, unchanged from last month's
estimate, to 1.2 trillion shekels ($325 billion). Growth is
projected at 3.2 to 3.5 percent in 2017.
Third-quarter gross domestic product growth was revised to
4.1 percent from 4.2 percent.
Despite a sharp rise in the last three months of 2016, the
Bank of Israel has played down the data, attributing the gain to
In keeping the benchmark interest rate at 0.1 percent for a
24th straight month on Feb. 27, the central bank said the
quarterly jump was based on an "atypical increase" in sales of
vehicles reflecting purchases being brought forward in advance
of a revision of taxes at the start of 2017.
Growth, it added, was slightly above 3 percent in the fourth
quarter excluding the one-off factor.
Similarly, Bank of Israel Deputy Governor Nadine
Baudot-Trajtenberg told Reuters last week that even a 4 percent
growth rate last year did not point to a "step-up" in the
economy given Israel's annual population growth of 2 percent.
The statistics bureau said per capita GDP grew 2.0 percent
In the October-December period, exports - which comprise
more than 30 percent of Israeli economic activity - grew 11.1
percent, private spending rose 3.8 percent and investment in
fixed assets was up by 8 percent. Imports rose 6.5 percent and
government spending was up 3.2 percent.
In 2016, exports grew 3 percent, private spending rose 6.3
percent and investment increased 11.3 percent.
Along with moderate economic growth, Israel has zero
inflation. The annual rate was up by 0.1 percent in January
after 28 months of falling prices, which coincided with a slump
of energy prices worldwide.
($1 = 3.6877 shekels)
(Reporting by Steven Scheer; editing by Tova Cohen/Mark