On the expenditure side, household consumption increased by 0.4 percent in the first quarter, faster than a 0.3 percent rise in the December quarter and marking the first above-average growth for the first time in six quarters. Consumption expenditures grew in almost all segments and most significantly in healthcare and mobility. In addition, construction spending rebounded markedly (0.5 percent vs -0.2 percent in Q4), boosted by building construction activity and civil engineering work; while investment in equipment and software recovered sharply (1.5 percent vs -0.1 percent in Q4), mainly driven by rises in research and development activities, vehicles and IT services. At the same time, government spending growth was unchanged (at 0.3 percent). Meanwhile, net foreign demand contributed positively to the GDP growth, with exports of goods continuing to grow (2.2 percent vs 5.8 percent in Q4) and imports of goods rising further (2.4 percent vs 0.8 percent). Meantime, exports of services rose by 1.7 percent (vs 0.6 percent in Q4), and imports of services expanded at a slower 1.3 percent (vs -0.4 percent in Q4).
On the production side, manufacturing saw dynamic growth (1.5 percent), mainly led by the pharmaceutical industry as well as watchmaking and precision instruments. Within services, growth was recorded for healthcare (0.8 percent), and business-related services (0.4 percent). Also, there were value added in trade (0.5 percent), the first rise following five negative quarters, bolstered by the positive development in wholesale. Finally, the finance sector also returned to growth (0.7 percent).
Year-on-year, the GDP grew by 1.7 percent in the first quarter, accelerating from an upwardly revised 1.5 expansion in the previous quarter and also beating market forecasts of a 1 percent advance.
In 2018, the economy expanded 2.6 percent, much stronger than a 1.6 percent growth in 2017.