Slovenia central bank says Q4 economic data weak

LJUBLJANA, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Available Slovenian economic data for the last quarter of 2019 is “relatively weak” while uncertainty in the international environment remains significant, the Bank of Slovenia said on Thursday.

As a consequence “planning and leading fiscal policy remains demanding”, the bank added in its monthly report on economic and financial developments.

The statistics office will release GDP growth data for the last quarter of 2019 at the end of February.

The central bank added that conditions in the world economy improved a bit at the end of the year amid signs of lower uncertainties in international trade.

While confidence in the euro zone decreased in the last quarter, it is expected that economic activity will be supported by a stimulative policy of the euro zone central banks.

“The euro exchange rate will continue to ease the position of euro zone exporters,” the bank said.

It said business confidence in Slovenia fell in the last quarter amid weak growth of foreign demand and weak construction activity.

“Maybe there are signs of possible stabilisation of foreign demand (in Slovenia),” the bank said, referring to manufacturing sector data as well as the latest economic growth forecasts for Slovenian trading partners.

Slovenia exports about 80% of its production, mostly to other European Union (EU) states. Main exports include cars, car parts, pharmaceuticals and household appliances.

The bank said the nominal growth of average gross wages reached 4.3% in the first ten months of 2019 while productivity was stagnating which impaired Slovenia’s competitiveness but at the same time enabled growth of household spending.

Last month the central bank forecast Slovenia’s 2020 economic growth at 2.5% versus some 2.6% seen in 2019, saying domestic demand will represent the main drive of growth although export growth will remain solid.

In spite of weaker growth, Slovenia estimates it had a budget surplus of some 0.8% in 2019, unchanged from a year before, the bank said, adding the government plans a slightly higher surplus in 2020 and 2021. (Reporting By Marja Novak; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)