Even the pessimists would appreciate the strong fundamentals of Sri Lanka as economic growth continues to remain strong. Sri Lanka’s second quarter GDP growth came in at 8.2% YoY as against 7.9% clocked in the first quarter. The higher investment levels coupled with the central bank maintaining lower interest rates has resulted in sustenance of the growth momentum post the end of the civil war in 2009. The services GDP grew at 8.8% YoY as against 8.6% in the same quarter last year. Our GDP forecasts for 2011/2012 remain at 8.5%/9.1% respectively.
The Central Bank of Sri Lanka has left the interest rates unchanged for another month. The CBSL had cut policy interest rate from 10.5% in 2008 to 7% in January 2011. This is the eighth consecutive month which saw the central bank maintaining the status quo in an attempt to promote growth, unlike other central banks in most South Asia economies, which have been tightening in a bid to fight inflation. Going forward, we do not expect the CBSL to hike interest rates this year.
Services and industry sectors shine: The services sector accounted for over 60.3% share of the GDP, highest level in last 10 quarters. In the second quarter of 2010 the services sector grew by a handsome 8.8% YoY as against 8.6% in the same quarter last year. Hotel and restaurants, wholesale and retail trade and transport communication were the highest contributors to growth in this quarter.
The government efforts to revive the industrial activity seem to have paid off with the industry growing at 9.48% YoY. The agricultural sector bounced back sharply with a growth of 1.9% from de-growth of 5.1% in the previous quarter led by strong marine fisheries and rubber output.
CBSL maintains status quo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka has left the interest rates unchanged for another month. Although commodity prices have continued to remain elevated in international markets, improved domestic supply conditions and the stability of the Sri Lankan rupee have helped contain domestic inflation.
Monetary indicators: Broad money (M2) expanded at 20.7% YoY as of July 2011 mainly driven by the robust expansion of credit obtained by the private sector, which in turn reflects largely the notable expansion of domestic economic activity.
We expect that the moderation in world growth outlook with a slowdown in both advanced economies as well as emerging economies would have some dampening effect on credit. Going forward, we do not expect the CBSL to hike interest rates this year. As per the latest release, if the situation demands, the central bank has shown its readiness to indeed ease monetary policy stance in the months ahead.
GDP outlook: Given the impact of adverse weather conditions in the early part of 2011 and global recession, the second quarter performance of the economy seems to be very encouraging. The latest GDP data for second quarter is likely to raise the confidence level of the private sector and investing community as the sub-8% GDP growth in Q1 had dampened business sentiments to some extent.
We have a continuing coverage on the Sri Lankan economy, along with some large cap companies. Please let us know if you would like to discuss.
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