Final figures showed manufacturing rose 1.6 percent in the first quarter, recovering from a 1.7 percent decline in the previous period, boosted by an increase in output of semiconductors and machinery & equipment. Construction also rebounded (2.1 percent vs -1.6 percent in Q4), with increases in residential building and engineering construction. In addition, output growth picked up for both services (1.1 percent vs 0.3 percent), led by growth in finance & insurance and cultural & other services, and agriculture (6.0 percent vs 0.2 percent). In contrast, utilities plunged 7.0 percent after a 0.4 percent expansion in the fourth quarter of last year.
By expenditure, gross fixed investment rebounded 2.0 percent in the first quarter after a 1.2 percent contraction in the previous three months. Construction spending rebounded 1.8 percent (-2.3 percent in Q4), driven by investment in residential building and engineering construction; and facilities investment also jumped 3.4 percent (vs -0.7 percent in Q4), led by the growth of investment in machinery and transportation equipment. On the other hand, investment in intellectual property products rose at a softer pace (0.3 percent vs 1.1 percent). In addition, final consumption expenditure climbed 1.1 percent (vs 0.9 percent in Q4), nudged by government consumption (2.2 percent vs 0.5 percent) while household consumption growth eased (0.7 percent vs 1 percent). Exports climbed 4.4 percent (vs -5.3 percent in Q4), due to higher sales of semiconductors and machinery & equipment, and imports went up at a faster 4.9 percent (vs -2.9 percent in Q4), owing to expansions in imports of natural gas and machinery & equipment.
Year-on-year, the economy advanced 2.8 percent in the first three months of 2018, matching the growth recorded for the previous quarter and the advance estimate.