Salomon's Freris sees growth spurt

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 August, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 August, 1996, 12:00am

A turnaround in private consumption will spearhead an economic upturn with annual growth this year of about 5.2 per cent, chief regional economist for Salomon Brothers, Andrew Freris, says.

He is one of the few economists in the territory to revise his growth forecast for the year upward.

His positive assessment has been influenced by first-quarter private consumption figures of 3.5 per cent, the highest since the fourth quarter of 1994 and up from last quarter's 0.4 per cent.

Other factors underpinning a resurgence in growth would be solid investment growth and a stabilising current account deficit, Mr Freris said.

'We can expect to see some good performance on the services side,' he said.

Service exports rose 14.1 per cent in the first quarter while the trade deficit fell to US$10.8 billion in the first half, compared to $11.4 billion for that period last year.

Mr Freris said first-quarter gross domestic product growth of 3.1 per cent was unrepresentative of the growth trend. He said one of the most important trends had been the bottoming out of the decline in consumer expenditure growth.