Indonesia Growth Probably Exceeded 6% as Domestic Strength Counters Europe

Indonesia’s growth probably exceeded 6 percent for a fifth quarter as domestic demand helped Southeast Asia’s largest economy withstand the European debt turmoil that has hurt exports across Asia.

Gross domestic product increased 6.45 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, compared with a 6.5 percent pace in the previous three months, according to the median of 17 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey ahead of a government report due Feb. 6. Bank Indonesia will keep its benchmark rate at a record-low 6 percent, according to 11 of 15 estimates before a Feb. 9 decision.

Indonesia is outperforming its neighbors including Thailand and the Philippines (PHGDPYOY), as two rate cuts in the last quarter aided President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s efforts to increase gross domestic product by an average 6.6 percent a year. The country regained investment-grade rating from Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings for the first time since the Asian financial crisis in recent weeks, boosting investment prospects as it plans transport and utility projects.

“The government needs to continue to build up infrastructure to sustain this kind of growth,” said Leslie Tang, an economist at OSK-DMG Group in Singapore. “Rising incomes are feeding into consumption which is supporting the domestic economy. There is no necessity for the central bank to cut rates further unless the external situation deteriorates significantly.”

Monetary, Fiscal Stimulus

Indonesia’s policy makers have signaled they are prepared to support the economy with monetary and fiscal stimulus as Europe’s protracted sovereign-debt crisis threatens global expansion and crimps demand for Asian exports.

Bank Indonesia, which kept its benchmark rate unchanged in January for a second month after reductions in October and November, has widened the lower range of its interbank lending rate since then to push borrowing costs lower. The government said in September it was preparing a stimulus package, and Bambang Brodjonegoro, head of fiscal policy at the finance ministry, said last month the country will increase spending to bolster growth and limit the impact of a global slowdown.

The nation’s currency fell 0.2 percent to 8,985 per dollar as of 3:02 p.m. Jakarta time, according to the local prices from local banks compiled by Bloomberg. It gained 0.8 percent last month.

Profits Climb

Lower borrowing costs have bolstered profit at lenders including PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia. The nation’s second-biggest bank by market value expects net income to have risen by at least 15 percent last year, it said Jan. 24.

Growth in many Asian countries is weakening. South Korea’s economy grew the least in two years last quarter and China reported last month its weakest expansion in 10 quarters. Philippine GDP rose 3.7 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, while Thailand’s grew 3.5 percent in the third quarter.

Yudhoyono’s push to boost infrastructure and curb corruption has lured funds, helping the nation’s bonds return more than 5 percent this year, the biggest gainers among 10 local-currency debt indexes compiled by HSBC Holdings Plc. The Indonesian rupiah reached a three-month high last month.

Indonesia’s parliament approved in December a land- acquisition bill that will allow the government to accelerate road, port and airport projects.

Moody’s raised Indonesia’s sovereign debt rating to Baa3 from Ba1 last month. Fitch upgraded its rating to BBB- in December, citing “strong and resilient” growth and declining public-debt ratios.

To contact the reporters on this story: Novrida Manurung in Jakarta at nmanurung@bloomberg.net; Karl Lester M. Yap in Manila at kyap5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephanie Phang at sphang@bloomberg.net

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