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Economy in Brief

Belgium National Bank Index Softens
by Robert Brusca September 24, 2007

Belgium is not one of the large EU countries. But it is situated in the heart of the union and it does issue an index ahead of those issued by other EU member countries. It is the timeliness of this index and its correlation with the main Euro area indexes as well as with those of Germany that make the Belgium National Bank Indexes interesting to us. It is a timely report and serves as a decent bellwether for the Euro area.

Its sector plotting, the accompanying chart shows that the main Belgium sectors have peaked and are losing some momentum. Wholesaling and retailing has made the largest drop in September – a decline of six points. The Belgian index shows a drop in the most important sector indexes (construction excluded). In its MFG detail it shows domestic orders fall into negative territory while foreign orders are just expanding on a less widespread basis. These trends are roughly consistent with what we have been seeing in the rest of the Euro area, except through July Euro area foreign orders have been weaker than domestic orders.

Belgium National Bank Indexes
  Sep-07 Aug-07 Jul-07 3-Mo Change 6-Mo Change 12-Mo Change
Total Industry 1.5 3.3 4.2 -4.0 0.1 -3.0
Manufacturing 1.4 2.8 4.5 -5.1 2.4 -3.6
Production 0.0 4.0 4.0 -8.0 0.0 -9.0
Domestic Orders -3.0 1.0 -2.0 -8.0 -7.0 -8.0
Foreign Orders 8.0 9.0 14.0 -3.0 11.0 -1.0
Prices 3.0 2.0 7.0 -10.0 -6.0 -10.0
Current assessment
Total Orders -2.0 0.0 2.0 -5.0 1.0 -8.0
Foreign Orders 1.0 2.0 4.0 -3.0 4.0 -4.0
Inventories -1.0 0.0 -3.0 6.0 -5.0 -1.0
-- -- -- 0.0 0.0 0.0
Wholesale & Retail 0.0 6.5 4.8 -4.2 -6.3 -4.2
Construction 3.4 2.3 2.1 1.1 -4.0 0.7
Business Services 13.8 15.2 15.9 -4.2 -1.1 3.7
Comparisons:       Changes lag one month
EU Index: Industry #N/A 5.0 5.0 -1.0 -2.0 2.0
Germany Index: Industry #N/A 8.0 8.0 -1.0 -1.0 4.0
Compare: BNB Index -- -- -- -0.6 -0.5 0.2
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