For the third consecutive year, the Barbados economy registered above average growth. This was accompanied by a smaller fiscal deficit and a record unemployment rate of 7.6%. However, the expansion of real economic activity in 2006 was again led by the non-traded sectors, which rose in excess of 5% for the third year in a row. In contrast, value added in the traded sectors remained relatively weak and has grown by just 1% on average per year since 2004, leading to pressure on the balance of payments. The Central Bank responded by further tightening monetary policy, which, in conjunction with a smaller on-budget fiscal deficit, reduced the growth of credit and the external current account balance. However, inflation increased, partly as a result of uncertainty in the international oil market, which drove crude oil prices to an all time high of $78 per barrel in July. Yet geo-political tensions lessened thereafter and consequently, the price of oil moderated.