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Private consumption expanded by 0.2% in the first quarter over the previous quarter. The growth in consumption was primarily the result of expansion in the housing and healthcare sectors along with the “other” category (mainly banking services and insurance). Consump-tion expenditures in the components food and clothing fell however. Government consump-tion increased in the first quarter by 0.3% over the previous quarter.
Gross fixed capital formation fell by a slight -0.3% in the first quarter. Development varied greatly within this aggregate. Construction investment grew sharply by 2.7%. In comparison, capital spending declined by -2.7%, after having registered a strong increase during the last quarter of 2010. Negative growth could be observed in particular in vehicle investments and software categories.
As in the fourth quarter of 2010, the export of goods (excluding precious metals, gemstones, as well as object of art and antiques) also expanded markedly in the first quarter of 2011 by 3.1%. In particular the machinery and electronics categories along with precision and optical instruments, clocks, watches and jewellery contributed positively to this growth. Service exports grew by 10.8% over the previous quarter. This remarkable increase was exclusively the product of higher earnings from the transit trade (“merchandising” or trade with raw ma-terial). Goods imports (excluding precious metals, gemstones, as well as object of art and antiques) increased by 0.7%. The metal working, machinery, appliance, electronics and vehicle categories all made significant contributions to the increase in imported goods. Services imports expanded by 1.1%.
The production side was more nuanced in terms of growth in the first quarter of 2011. There was a significant increase in the value added in the areas of agriculture (+3.8%), construction (+1.2%), as well as the industry-dominated sector (+0.6%). By contrast, the value added increases in the sector dominated by financial services as well as the sector dominated by public services were rather modest at a mere 0.2% each. In the trade, hotel and transport services value added even declined (-0.5%).
After six quarters of negative development, the deflator for gross domestic product increased for the first time slightly compared to the corresponding quarter in the previous year (+0.4%). The consumption deflator also recorded slight growth of 0.3%. The construction deflator booked a significant increase of 2.1%. By contrast the prices for investment goods declined once again (-2.7%). The negative trend observed in export prices since early 2009 continued in the first quarter of 2011 with a decline of 1.4%. Import prices sank by 1.0%; the negative trend in import prices is observed since fall 2008.
*Unless otherwise stated the percentage changes listed here refer to the previous quarter from seasonally and price adjusted figures (not annualized). «Real» is used to describe the formulation «data at previous year prices, quarterly chained series with reference year 2000».