Gross Fixed Investment (GFI) grew 9.1% yoy in March (from 11.8% in February), broadly in line with our forecast and market consensus (as per Bloomberg) – both at 9.4%. Adjusting the figures for working days, GFI grew at a similar pace (9.4%), taking the 1Q23 annual rate to 9.3% (from 7.7% in 4Q22). According to the calendar-adjusted breakdown, 1Q23 annual growth in construction investment stood at 3.2% (from 2.6% in 4Q22), while machinery & equipment investment stood at a strong 17.2% (from 14.1%).
At the margin, GFI momentum remained solid in 1Q23 driven by machinery & equipment investment. GFI expanded 0.5% mom/sa, taking the quarter-over-quarter annualized growth rate (qoq/saar) to 12.6% in 1Q23 (from 13.5% in 4Q22). Looking at the breakdown, construction investment qoq/saar stood at 5.3% in 1Q23 (from 16.1% in 4Q22), while machinery & equipment investment came in at a solid 26.2% (from 8.4%).
Private consumption momentum was also positive in 1Q23. The monthly proxy for private consumption expanded by 3.4% yoy in March (using calendar-adjusted figures), with the 1Q23 annual growth rate at 4.5% (practically unchanged from 4Q22). At the margin, private consumption expanded 0.3% mom/sa in March, taking the qoq/saar figure to 10.2% in 1Q23 (from 1.5% in 4Q22).
Our GDP growth forecast for this year stands at 2.4%. After a still solid 1Q23 GDP expansion, we expect sequential activity growth to soften in the last three quarters of the year dragged by a softer U.S. economy and amid a tight monetary policy stance.