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Belgian Manufacturers Reduce Capital Spending by 1.4%

Dec. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Belgian manufacturers reduced capital spending by an estimated 1.4 percent this year, the first annual drop in three years, according to the National Bank of Belgium’s semi-annual survey.

The decline compares with a projection of a 17 percent gain six months ago and follows a 10 percent increase in 2011. Spending is projected to rebound 14 percent next year, the Brussels-based central bank said today in an e-mailed statement.

The downward revision in the 2012 estimate “reflects a difficult context marked by an unfavorable trend in demand forecasts in the second half of the year, both on the domestic market and on foreign markets,” according to the bank. Next year will benefit from “a brighter outlook on the export markets,” it said.

For 2012, “there appears to have been a decline in virtually all branches of activity, with the exception of the car manufacturing, non-ferrous metals, cement, paper and board industries as well as the clothing industry,” the central bank said. “Small and medium-sized enterprises seem to have been affected the most.”

Capital spending by the manufacturing industry, which accounts for about 16 percent of total investment by Belgian companies, last declined on an annual basis in 2009, when it fell 20 percent, according to the bank.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jones Hayden in Brussels at jhayden1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jerrold Colten at jcolten@bloomberg.net

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