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Sectoral Overview. June 2017

Publicado el 22/06/2017

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The latest available figures, especially regarding employment, indicate that the Spanish economy will have grown faster in the second quarter of the year, with a GDP growth of around 1.0% quarter-on-quarter (+0.8% previous quarter). This growth is also more balanced, fuelled by manufacturing investment and extremely buoyant exports.

By sector, the service sector is still the greatest growth driver thanks to the excellent performance of retailing, above all wholesale. Industry has had mixed signs with a slight dip in production but better orders and job figures. In construction, meanwhile, residential sector is performing well in terms of job creation, favourable lending terms and improved household balance sheet, offsetting the slowdown in public construction projects.


• After the new cyclical high in Social Security affiliates recorded in May (+223,192), the job market rebounded to levels last seen at the end of 2008, with a total of 18.34 registered members. Consequently, in deseasonalised terms, employment was up 1.1% during the second quarter versus 1Q17 (+0.9% previous quarter), the fastest rate in two years. This improvement runs across almost all activities, especially in the Horeca sector with more than 94,000 new registered members in the last year; followed by retailing (+84,141), professional activities (+68,507), manufacturing (+62,780) and construction (+60,820) (pg. 6)

• Having been dragged down at the start of the year by the sharp rise in inflation, household consumption expenditure (in real terms) regained some of its former vigour: retail sales rose by 1.6% year on year in April, double the rate in 1Q17 (pg. 23). The slowdown in new car registrations (+6.5% in April-May versus +7.9% in 1Q17) could be explained in part by the timing of Easter this year. In annual terms, this indicator stands at approximately 1.2 million, similar to the 2008 figure.

• The business turnover index climbed in 1Q17 at the fastest rate since the end of 2006: 6.9% YOY (+5.2% in 4Q16). Nevertheless, current levels remain way off the highs of 2008 (-14%). By sector, water and electricity companies have performed well (+12%), although services - especially commerce - were the greatest contributors to the general growth rate.

• In this regard, the service sector remains the most dynamic in the economy, posting year-on-year growth of 6.7% in 1Q17 (+5.5% previously), closing out the best quarter in the last decade. Retail was primarily behind this upturn, above all wholesale, while vehicle sales and repairs were at the opposite end of the scale (pg. 16 and 20). The tourist sector continues to shine, although it should be noted that the sharp rise in hotel nights spent in April (+19.3% - the highest growth since 2006) was particularly affected by the Easter effect. Indeed, the YTD figure drops to 4% (+5.9% for foreign guests versus +0.8% for Spanish guests).

• Turning to industry, the IPI dipped in April: hardly growing by 0.7% year on year, well below the figure of 1.8% for the period January-March. This is primarily explained by the drop in production of pharmaceuticals, vehicles and electricity and gas, in contrast to the better performance of the electrical appliances and supplies and equipment and machinery segments (pg. 16 and 17). Other industrial indicators have, however, offered better news: (i) employment, in terms of the number of Social Security registered members, went up by a rate not seen since late 2000 (+3.1% in April-May); (ii) new orders rose in March at the highest rate since the end of 2010 (+10.7%); and (iii) productive capacity utilisation remains high (78.3% in 2Q17, seven tenths of a percent higher than in the previous quarter).

• After an excellent start to the year for the construction sector (with its GVA rising by 4.4% YOY during 1Q17, the fastest rate in 15 years), available data indicates that it will remain strong in 2Q17. Sector confidence is at its highest since the end of 2015 (-25.8 in April-May), while the production of construction materials climbed in April to the highest rate since January 2016 (+11.2%). On the other hand, the decrease in cement consumption in April (-2.3%) stemmed from the seasonal effect of Easter (there was a 9.4% cumulative increase in March and April). By segment, the upturn in home-building is set to continue (new home permits increased 18.7% in 1Q17 to a five-year high), with public works projects on the wane (government tenders decreased by 6.4% over the same period).

• The sharp increase in the trade deficit in 1Q17 (+45.6% YOY to 1.9% of GDP in annual terms) is principally due to a poorer performing energy sector, the deficit of which climbed to its highest level since July 2016 of 19 billion euros: energy imports shot up 71.1%, seven times more than non-energy imports. However, non-energy exports remained especially robust (+11.7% - the highest rate in almost six years), with food (fruit, vegetables and legumes above all), capital goods (especially general-purpose machinery and engines) and chemical products (pharmaceuticals and plastics) making the largest contributions (pg. 11 and 13).

• Lastly, as the economy picks up, the number of companies filing for insolvency continued to decline in 1Q17 as it has done since mid-2013: the figure (1,056) was the lowest in this nine-year period, falling on a year-on-year basis to 2009 levels (4,111). From a sector perspective, decreases in construction (-18% YOY), transport and storage (-22.2%) and especially Horeca (-45.2%) contrast with the increases in industry and energy (+8.6%), financial and real estate activities (+45.7%) and farming and fisheries in particular (+66.7%) (pg. 10).

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