Dutch Economy Contracts More Than Initially Estimated

The Dutch economy, the fifth largest in the euro area, contracted more than initially estimated in the first quarter, as estimates of consumer spending and investment were revised down.

Gross domestic product fell 0.4 percent from the previous three months, according to final figures published by the national statistics bureau in The Hague on its website today. All eight economists in a Bloomberg survey had forecast that the bureau would maintain its initial estimate of a 0.1 percent contraction released on May 15.

“This number shows the economy is going through heavier times than we expected,” said Jacques van de Wal, head of the Dutch economic bureau at ABN Amro Bank NV in Amsterdam. “And we cannot say yet the lowest point is behind us.”

The Netherlands is going through its third recession in four years. Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s coalition government is trying to narrow its budget gap with a four-year, 16 billion-euro ($21 billion) austerity package. The coalition also has to agree on additional austerity measures of 6 billion euros to meet the European Union’s deficit limit of 3 percent of GDP in 2014.

GDP fell 1.8 percent in the first quarter on an annual basis, compared with a drop of 1.7 percent in the first estimate in May.

Government spending was slightly higher in the quarter than initially estimated, the statistics bureau said. Estimates of output in mining, trade, transportation and services were revised downward, while the construction sector, financial institutions and the government produced more, it said.

The number of jobs fell in the first quarter by 51,000, more than the 34,000 estimated in May, with the extra losses mainly in services industry, trade and transportation.

The governments planning agency said on June 14 GDP will decline 1 percent this year. For 2014 it foresees growth of 1 percent.