PREVIEW-Dutch economy seen growing again in Q1

WHAT: Netherlands GDP for Q1 2010 WHEN: Wednesday, May 12, 0930 CET (0730 GMT) REUTERS FORECAST: Median +0.4 percent q/q Q1 vs +0.2 in Q4 2009. Five economists participated in the survey and the range was +0.2 to +0.6 percent. FACTORS TO WATCH: A pick-up in world trade likely drove a third straight quarter of growth for the Netherlands, showing the economy is on a stable path of recovery after five quarters of contraction. The Dutch economy, the fifth largest in the euro zone, is expected to have grown 0.4 percent quarter-on-quarter in the first three months of 2010, based on a Reuters survey, after 0.2 percent growth in the fourth quarter of 2009. "The economy is on a path of sustained but moderate growth," said Aline Schuiling, senior economist at Fortis Bank Nederland. "The Netherlands is benefiting from the recovery in world trade growth, Dutch exports are doing very well." The pace of exports is key for the country, accounting for about 70 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Consumption is also set to be a focus, with some economists expecting a slight improvement. "We might be looking at a small plus there," said Charles Kalshoven, chief economist for ING's retail unit. Economists said the impact of unusually severe weather during the first few months of the year would make the figures more difficult to interpret, though. "On one hand the exports of gas will show a positive effect but on the other hand the effect on construction will be negative," Rabobank's Hans Stegeman said. Dutch government think tank CPB is expecting GDP to grow 1.5 percent in 2010 and 2 percent in 2011. MARKET IMPACT With focus turning already to second quarter data, the first quarter figures are not expected to have a major market impact even if they come in slightly lower than expected. Markets have priced in some weaker monthly data for January and February, which have been attributed largely to one-off factors such as severe weather, economists said. If the data is especially weak, though, it could have an impact on spreads for Dutch government debt -- currently some of the tightest in Europe in relation to benchmark German bunds. Investors have fled to safety in Dutch paper as a public debt crisis pounded other European sovereign issuers. Disappointing figures could also become a focus for debate among political parties in the Netherlands ahead of the June 9 national elections. For March inflation table: For Jan-Mar adjusted unemployment: Dutch statistics agency website All Netherlands economic data Today's data (Reporting by Catherine Hornby; editing by Tony Austin) Keywords: DUTCH ECONOMY/GDP (; + 31 20 504 5009; Reuters Messaging: COPYRIGHT Copyright Thomson Reuters 2010. All rights reserved.

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