Research firm Gartner Inc. has lowered its global technology spending growth forecast because of the sluggish economy and the euro crisis.

Gartner said Thursday that the computer hardware sector will be the hardest hit, hurt by supply constraints in the hard disk drive industry. Floods that have left one-third of Thailand under water upended hard-drive production in the country — a major manufacturing hub for the industry.

Gartner now expects worldwide spending on technology to grow by 3.7 percent this year, to $3.8 trillion. That’s down from its earlier forecast of 4.6 percent growth. In 2011, global tech spending grew 6.9 percent from the prior year, to $3.7 trillion.

“Faltering global economic growth, the eurozone crisis and the impact of Thailand’s floods on hard-disk drive (HDD) production have all taken their toll on the outlook for IT spending,” said Richard Gordon, research vice president at Gartner.

Michael Smith, vice president of research for Gartner, will provide tech executives in North Carolina a more detailed view about tech trends and spending on Jan. 27. He is the keynote speaker for the North Carolina Technology Association’s annual Outlook for IT event and annual meeting. (For details, read here.)

“Thailand has been a major hub for hard-drive manufacturing, both for finished goods and components,” Gordon said. “We estimate the supply of hard drives will be reduced by as much as 25 percent (and possibly more) during the next six to nine months. Rebuilding the destroyed manufacturing facilities will also take time and the effects of this will continue to ripple throughout 2012 and very likely into 2013.”

Though the outcome of the euro crisis is not yet clear, Gartner expects businesses and consumers in Europe to be cautious about spending money on technology. The research firm now expects 2012 spending to grow by just 0.7 percent in Western Europe, down from its earlier forecast of 3.4 percent growth.

“With the eurozone crisis causing uncertainty for both businesses and consumers in Western Europe we have adjusted our forecast, and we expect IT spending in Western Europe to decline 0.7 percent in 2012,” Gordon said.

Gartner includes hardware, software and information technology services in its spending forecast. It also includes spending on telecom equipment and services. It expects all sectors to see slower spending growth than in 2011, though telecommunications services, just barely.

Through 2015, Gartner expects tech spending to grow by 5 percent, down slightly from its earlier forecast of 5.4 percent growth.

The effects of the Thailand floods will continue to affect companies through this year and possibly into 2013, Gartner said. The research firm estimates that hard drive supplies will be reduced by as much as a quarter, possibly more, during the next six to nine months. The biggest PC makers will be in the best position to weather the effect of the shortages, but all will be affected, Gartner said.

Read more from Gartner here.

Get the latest news alerts: Follow WRAL Tech Wire at Twitter.