RTTNews - Belgium's economy will contract 3.5% this year after rising 1% in 2008, the National Bank of Belgium predicted Wednesday. That was a downward revision from 1.9% fall predicted in February. The economy is estimated to contract at a smaller pace of 0.2% in 2010.

The bank said the decline in activity is expected slow in the second quarter, paving the way for a modest recovery in 2010. The number of unemployed is expected to rise to 36,000 in 2009 and to 80,000 in 2010. The unemployment rate is likely to rise to 9.2% in 2010 from 7% in 2008. By the end of 2010, the rate would reach to 9.7%, the bank said.

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