BA economist says industrial branch to grow sharply this year

Bank Austria (BA) chief economist Stefan Bruckbauer said he expected Austria’s industrial branch to grow “by at least four per cent” this year.Bruckbauer said today (Thurs) preliminary figures showed a record increase from foreign companies in demand for Austrian industrial firms’ products this month.”These developments confirm that Austria’s industrial branch is to become a decisive ‘growth carrier’ of the country’s economy,” he added.Bruckbauer said the only bad news was the recent increase of purchase prices for steel, plastics, fibre and paper. He however stressed that the upward trend would continue nevertheless.Austria’s economy has suffered immensely under the effects of the global economic downturn. Dozens of companies put their employees into part-time work instead of sacking them.Institute for Economic Research (Wifo) warned in its latest economic forecast that a significant upward trend was not in sight for Austria’s economy.The Viennese think tank said last month it had decided to lower its economic growth forecast for 2010 and 2011. Wifo said it expected the country’s economy to grow by 1.3 per cent this year and by 1.4 per cent in 2011 – after predicting growth rates of 1.5 and 1.6 per cent last December.The Institute for Higher Studies (IHS) – Austria’s other leading think tank – meanwhile said it would not change its predictions. The body predicted a 1.3 per cent growth for this year and 1.7 per cent growth in 2011.The Austrian economy shrank by 3.6 per cent last year compared to 2008.Wifo has appealed for the government to agree on a third economic stimulus package, while IHS has rejected this idea.