Slovak eurozone-focussed industry picks up in April

Slovak industrial production -- mainly German, French and Korean-brand auto exports to the eurozone -- picked up in April with 2.2-percent growth on an annual basis after a 1.3-percent rise in March, official data showed on Monday.

But on an adjusted basis, industrial output in the eurozone member contracted by 1.9 percent in April after adding 0.3 percent in March, the Slovak Statistics Office said.

"Slovakia's economy is driven by exports of cars and spare parts to Germany, which has seen a moderate growth in the past months," Slovenska Sporitelna analyst Martin Balaz told AFP.

"But we don't expect this year's output to catch up with last year that saw a one-off boost as foreign-owned car plants in Slovakia launched new production lines," he added.

April industrial growth was driven by a 4.7-percent expansion in car production at plants operated by the German group Volkswagen, France's PSA Peugeot Citroen and Kia of South Korea, which pumped out a record 900,000 vehicles last year.

Analysts say that even if auto plants continue to operate at full capacity this year, it would not significantly boost growth of overall industrial output.

Electronics production, primarily by South Korean company Samsung and the Taiwanese group Foxconn, struggled meanwhile with 1.5-percent growth in April.

Slovakia, which registered 2.0 percent growth last year, is one of the eurozone's most dynamic economies largely thanks to sizeable foreign investment in the export-orientated auto sector.

But flagging exports to its recession-struck eurozone trade partners and weak domestic demand have seen 2013 growth forecasts sink as low as 0.6 percent.

Slovakia joined the EU in 2004 and the eurozone in 2009.