Mon, 08 Feb 2010

From: The Jakarta Globe

By Ardian Wibisono
Economists are predicting that fourth-quarter GDP growth will be well above Bank Indonesia’s forecast due to strong domestic consumption and a rebound in exports.

A Jakarta Globe survey of economists at six local banks and research institutes found an average forecast of 5.2 percent for year-on-year fourth-quarter GDP growth, and 4.47 percent for full-year growth. This compares to a Bank Indonesia forecast, made at the beginning of 2009, of 4.4 percent fourth-quarter growth and 4.2 percent full-year growth.

Most of the economists surveyed forecast fourth-quarter growth of around 5 percent and full-year growth of around 4.4 percent. However, the state-run Danareksa Research Institute was by far the most optimistic, with a 6.1 percent quarterly prediction and a 4.7 percent full-year forecast.

The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) will release fourth-quarter numbers this week.

PT Bank Danamon economist Helmi Arman said the probable jump in full-year growth might surprise some investors and lead to speculation about rate hikes, thereby affecting bond prices.

Eric Alexander Sugandi, an economist at Standard Chartered Bank Indonesia, said Indonesia would likely post the third-highest GDP rate among the Group of 20 countries in 2009, behind only China and India.

“Strong domestic demand was the key factor that shielded Indonesia from the global economic recession in 2009,” Eric said.

Helmi said several indicators, including money supply and car sales, showed that consumer purchasing power was improving.

Auto sales are still well below pre-crisis levels, but sales of passenger cars rose 10 percent year-on-year in December, having rebounded 50 percent from their low in January 2009. Sales of commercial vehicles have rebounded by 60 percent from their low in February 2009.

“We also expect real [non-service] sector investments to have accelerated in the fourth quarter of 2009,” Helmi said.

“Construction activity probably grew faster, as indicated by rising cement-consumption growth of 18 percent in the fourth quarter, which comes amid a recovery in property loans on the back of lower interest rates and a late-coming rainy season,” he said.

Capital goods imports, a key investment indicator, have been rising steadily, although the fourth-quarter figure was down by 5 percent year-on-year.

“Over the year we saw a rise in imports of aircraft and ships for the transportation industry to replenish fleets and prepare for cabotage restrictions, which managed to counterbalance the softening in heavy equipment imports for mining and plantations,” Helmi said.

Purbaya Yudhi Sadewa, chief economist at the state-run Danareksa Research Institute, said the rebound in exports late in the year would boost growth.

Indonesian exports hit an all-time monthly high of $13.3 billion in December as commodity prices rose in line with the global economic recovery, the BPS said on Feb. 1.

Exports in December jumped 23.9 percent from November and a dramatic 49.8 percent from December 2008.

However, full-year 2009 exports still fell 15 percent to $116.5 billion.

Given that the global and Indonesian economies were now in recovery mode, Indonesia’s GDP is expected to grow by 5.5 percent in 2010 and 6.5 percent in 2011, Eric said.