Serbian GDP Grew 0.8% in Fourth Quarter, Less Than Forecast

Serbia’s economy grew 0.8 percent in the fourth quarter from a year ago, less than a central bank forecast, suggesting the Balkan nation is being hurt by a slowdown in exports and investments.

Economic output accelerated from 0.5 percent in the previous three-month period, the statistics office said in a flash estimate today, without providing additional data about the structure of growth. That missed a National Bank of Serbia forecast for growth of 1.1 percent made on Jan. 23.

The government and the central bank have estimated the economy to expand 1.5 percent this year, even as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development cut its outlook for Serbia to 1.1 percent from 2.1 percent, as southeastern European nations are hurt by Europe’s debt crisis through declining trade and investment.

The data paints a “gloomy picture,” said Ljiljana Grubic, an analyst at Belgrade-based Raiffeisen Bank, in a note to clients today. The GDP data, along with other new economic indicators, point to no “encouraging developments in the first half of 2012.”

Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic, who faces re-election by midyear and trails opposition parties in recent polls, is battling a surge in unemployment to 23.7 percent in 2011 and the Jan. 27 decision of United States Steel Corp. to sell its plant in Serbia back to the state for $1.

Indicators released today “point to inertia that started in May last year,” said Ivan Nikolic, research analyst at the Belgrade-based Economics Institute.