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Israel economy dipped in Q1 at end of COVID-19 lockdown


People walk next to the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City March 9, 2020 REUTERS/ Ronen Zevulun

Israel’s economy contracted by an annualised 6.5% in the first quarter, the Central Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday, with growth hurt by the tail-end of a COVID lockdown.

Gross domestic product was forecast to have grown an annualised 3.6% in the first three months of 2021, according to a Reuters poll of analysts.

After contracting 2.6% in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the economy is forecast to recover rapidly and grow at least 5% in 2021.

Israel emerged from a third lockdown in mid-March amid a declining rate of COVID-19 infections as a result of a rapid vaccination rollout. Close to 60% of Israel’s population is fully vaccinated, most businesses are open and the jobless rate has fallen below 8%.

Exports grew 13% in the first quarter, while private spending slipped 3.2% after solid gains in the second half of 2020. Investment in fixed assets fell 14.2%…

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