The Latvian economy grew a seasonally adjusted 1.3% y/y in the first quarter, a flash reading from the Central Statistical Bureau (CSB) showed on April 29. Economic growth slowed in comparison to the 2.2% expansion reported for October-December, and was lower than any quarter last year.
However, analysts remain calm, forecasting acceleration through the year. On a quarterly basis GDP contracted 0.1%.
The disappointing result came despite 2.9% growth in transportation and storage and a 2.3% expansion in the retail sector. Manufacturing contributed with a 0.5% expansion. However, those gains were offset by a considerable dip in the construction sector, which contracted as much as 22%, according to the CSB. Seasonally unadjusted, growth came in at 1.8%.
Despite the weakness in the first quarter, the Latvian economy is forecast to accelerate to growth of 3.3% in 2016, benefiting from a rising contribution from exports and investment, according to Swedbank analysts. Strong wage growth, low inflation, new lending growth, and stable optimism should continue to drive household consumption, a major pillar of growth.