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Israel Economy Expands 3.3% in 2012, Missing Previous Estimate

Israel’s economy expanded slower than previously estimated this year, as growth of exports and fixed investment moderated.

Gross domestic product increased 3.3 percent from a year ago, the Central Bureau of Statistics said at a Jerusalem press conference today, based on partial data for the year. The figure compares with a previous forecast of 3.5 percent by the bureau. In the third quarter, the economy expanded an annualized 2.8 percent, the slowest in three years, it said.

“Growth is high compared to OECD countries, but lower than countries like India and China,” said Oz Shimony, head of the statistics bureau’s macroeconomic division. “Export growth was much lower and investment in fixed assets, which was very high last year, has declined.”

The Bank of Israel monetary policy committee, led by Governor Stanley Fischer, last week reduced the benchmark interest rate to its lowest in more than two years. It cited weakness in economic indicators and a high level of economic risk around the world.

In 2011, the economy grew by 4.6 percent and in 2010 by 5 percent. In 2009, the growth rate was 1.1 percent.

Exports of goods and services grew 1 percent in 2012, compared with 5.5 percent last year, the bureau said. Exports not including diamonds rose 4.2 percent, compared with 4.1 percent last year. Investment in fixed capital rose 3.7 percent, against 16 percent in 2011. Consumer spending rose 2.8 percent, compared with 3.8 percent last year.

GDP per capita rose 1.5 percent in 2012, to 117,600 shekels ($30,500), the bureau said. Last year, GDP per capita increased 2.7 percent.

Israel posted a current account deficit of $900 million in 2012, or 0.4 percent of GDP, compared with a surplus of $1.9 billion, or 0.8 percent, the previous year.

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