GDP up 5.5pc but fails to meet official forecast
By DUNCAN HUGHES
HONG KONG'S gross domestic product (GDP) grew 5.5 per cent last year, slightly lower than the Government's original estimate.
The year-on-year increase in the fourth quarter was 5.1 per cent, about 0.5 of a percentage point lower than the third quarter, the Government said.
Economists said the slowdown was a result of falling domestic demand as rising interest rates bit into disposable income.
Consumers also felt the slowdown as a result of the fall in the stock market and housing prices.
The Government had originally estimated a full-year growth of 5.7 per cent.
Economists are divided on their GDP estimates for this year.
The main point of difference is the extent to which consumer demand will recover.
HSBC Asset Management senior economist Connie Leung estimated growth of about five per cent.
'Consumption this year will continue to be weak, but capital formation - due to the large scale construction projects in the territory - will be strong.' Hang Seng Bank economic research manager Joanne Yim estimated year-on-year growth in line with government estimates of about 5.5 per cent.
'We expect some pick-up in consumer spending, exports will continue to grow and investment spending will remain strong.' Baring Securities anticipated that GDP growth in the first quarter would be weak, but said it would likely pick up in the second half as interest rates peaked and Chinese monetary policy loosened.
Government figures show total exports of goods grew 11.3 per cent in real terms during the fourth quarter of 1994 compared with the previous year.