Hungary Keeps Economic Growth Momentum as Car Output Fuels Gains

Hungary’s economy maintained its growth momentum in the first quarter as an increase in car production helped defy forecasts for a slowdown.

Gross domestic product grew 3.4 percent from a year earlier, the Budapest-based statistics office reported Wednesday, citing preliminary data. That matched the growth rate in the fourth quarter and topped the 3.3 percent median estimate of 14 economists in a Bloomberg survey.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government last month boosted its economic growth forecast for this year to 3.1 percent from 2.5 percent as carmakers with factories in Hungary, from Daimler AG’s Mercedes to Suzuki Motor Corp., continued to propel industrial expansion. The outlook is improving as disposable incomes benefit from $3.7 billion in refunds by banks for unfair charges on mostly foreign-currency mortgage loans.

“Car manufacturing and electronics were the key drivers of industrial production and the food industry also supported economic expansion,” statistician Pal Pozsonyi told reporters.

The forint gained 0.5 percent to 305.27 versus the euro by 9:50 a.m. in Budapest.

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