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Car sector helps Slovak industry rebound in April

Slovakia's industrial output growth accelerated in April from a 33-month low in March as production in the key car sector picked up speed again and analysts predicted solid growth for the coming months.

The Slovak Statistics Office said on Monday industrial output rose by a real 9.7% year-on-year in April, after annual growth of 2.0% in March, which was the lowest increase since June 2005.

April data were slightly below analyst forecasts of a 10.3% rise.

“The breakdown shows that recovery was broadly based, with manufacturing leading the way, fuelled by transport equipment's sharp rise,” said Piotr Matys, an analyst with 4Cast in London.

Manufacturing production, which has the strongest weighting in the index, rose by 10.7% on the year in April, after a 2.7% increase in the previous month.

Production in the automotive industry, which is centered around assembly plants of Volkswagen, PSA Peugeot Citroen and Kia Motors, rose by 42.6% from a year ago, after 5.7% growth in March.

“The car sector continues its sound growth. The electronics industry, however, lags slightly behind, but I expect an improvement in the coming months as new capacities will go on line,” Juraj Valachy, a Tatra Banka analyst, said.

Valachy added he expected industrial output growth to be in a range of 5% to 9% this year.

Analysts said latest industrial production data could indicate a better foreign trade balance for April. April trade data are due to be released on Wednesday.

“Mainly because of surprisingly strong car production, we think there are chances that April foreign trade could show even a bigger surplus than the 2.6 billion crowns we had originally expected,” said Eduard Hagara of ING Bank in Bratislava.

The Reuters survey showed earlier this month a median forecast of a trade surplus of 2.4 billion crowns in April. (Reuters)