Slight Rise in Investments in 2001. Results of the WIFO Autumn 2000 Investment Survey
The short period of high growth has been interrupted by an increase of oil prices and a slowdown of the U.S. economy and world demand. WIFO recently revised its forecasts for 2001 and now projects a rise in GDP by 2.6 percent, and a fall in Austrian exports to 7 percent, after 12 percent in 2000. Manufacturing will grow by 4.5 percent. The WIFO Business Survey nevertheless finds that manufacturers are still optimistic. However, the indicators for projected production growth over the next months and for business climate in general indicate signals of lower growth expectations in 2001, especially when compared to the extraordinarily rapid expansion of 2000. Similarly, capacity utilisation rates have decreased in recent months. The Austrian manufacturers' assessment of the business climate is in line with that of European manufacturers. The composite indicator of business expectations in Europe recently stabilised at a high level, and there are signs of an impending downturn for the next months. Reflecting the slower growth in demand, and possibly also due to investments already made in 2000 to anticipate the abolition (due at the start of 2001) of the "Investitionsfreibetrag", companies in the survey plan to invest ATS 96.9 billion in 2001, which amounts to just a small increase of 1.4 percent. However, we have to bear in mind that investments grew at the extraordinarily high rate of 18.6 percent in 2000. Companies do not expect any severe deterioration of the business climate. They rather anticipate nominal sales to grow by 5.7 percent, after a pronounced expansion of 7.5 percent in 2000. Investment rates should be highest in the transport equipment, non-durable consumer goods and intermediate products industries. Manufacturers of investment goods, durable goods and food products on the other hand intend to curb their investments. There are substantial regional differences. Whereas manufacturers in western Austria, due to their better access to EU markets, want to intensify their investment spending, their counterparts in the east are planning to retrench. The same pattern is found in employment growth in 2000. The construction industry experienced a slowdown in the second half of 2000, and is expected to grow by just 1 percent in 2001. The sector's firms envisage investing ATS 5.9 billion, a rise by 7 percent. The electric utilities are still undergoing a comprehensive restructuring process and, according to their initial plans, are expected to further reduce their investments in 2001. Public transport enterprises and other utilities (gas, water) foresee an increase in their investments by 1.8 percent. When including the sectors not surveyed, WIFO forecasts a rise in overall investment of 1 percent for 2001.
Unternehmen planen 2001 geringe Investitionsausweitung. Ergebnisse des WIFO-Investitionstests vom Herbst 2000; Slight Rise in Investments in 2001. Results of the WIFO Autumn 2000 Investment Survey
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