WRAPUP 3-Mexico export rebound bodes well for Q3 growth
* Mexican exports break three-month losing streak
* Jobless rate falls to more than 3-1/2-year low
* Data are a positive sign for third-quarter growth
* Capital account shows first deficit in 3 years in Q2
MEXICO CITY, Aug 24 (Reuters) - Mexican exports bounced back in July from three months of declines amid a recovery in consumption in the United States, the country's main trading partner, helping to push the jobless rate to its lowest level in more than 3-1/2 years.
The rebound is a positive sign for Latin America's second-biggest economy after growth eased in the second quarter due to weak global demand and nervous investors cut inflows to Mexican debt and stock markets.
Mexico's capital account showed its first deficit in three years in the second quarter, hit also by Mexicans moving $17.5 billion in savings offshore and a European spending spree by telecommunications mogul Carlos Slim, the world's richest man, according to central bank figures.
But foreign investment has since picked up and July data so far suggest a more upbeat third quarter. Mexico's factory-made exports rose 2.14 percent last month from June, the national statistics agency said on Friday, driven by a 4.79 percent jump in car exports, mostly bound for the United States.
"The fact that industrial exports are trending up is very encouraging," Morgan Stanley economist Luis Arcentales said.
"Considering the signs of softening demand globally they are pretty positive."
Still, others noted a slight 0.2 percent fall in imports of non-oil intermediate goods, which are seen as a leading indicator for future exports.
Separate figures showed the jobless rate fell to 4.75 percent in July, adjusted for seasonal factors, below the 4.90 rate expected in a Reuters poll and the downwardly revised 4.91 percent recorded in June.
It was the lowest rate recorded since November 2008, before a punishing recession pushed jobless rates above 5 percent.
Mexico's economy is closely linked to that of the United States, where retail sales increased in July for the first time in four months, consumer confidence picked up and job creation accelerated, fanning optimism that the U.S. economy may be coming out of a soft patch earlier in the year to grow more strongly in the second half.
Mexico posted a $369.5 million trade surplus in adjusted terms, up from a surplus of $116.7 million in June, a figure which was originally reported as a deficit.
In non-seasonally adjusted terms, Mexico posted a trade deficit of $426.9 million. The raw jobless rate rose to 5.02 percent in July, slightly below analysts' expectations.
Mexico's economy has room to grow without prompting a reaction in interest rates as it is showing little sign of domestic inflation pressures. The central bank is expected to keep rates on hold at 4.5 percent through mid-2014.
FLIGHT OF FUNDS
Central bank data also released on Friday confirmed a solid trade performance in the first half of the year, with Mexico posting a current account surplus of $440 million in Q2. The surplus was lower than the first quarter's $1.18 billion, a number which was originally reported as a deficit.
The quarterly balance of payment data, which provide a snapshot of Mexico's dealings with the outside world, also showed the impact of a bout of investor nerves in the second quarter amid increased worries about Europe.
Net inflows in portfolio investment were just a third of the record levels reported in Q1 at $8.54 billion, with inflows into stock market and government debt roughly halving and helping to push the capital or financial ledger to a $2.14 billion deficit.
Mexicans also shifted $17.48 billion in savings abroad, the biggest deposits outflow in more than four years.
Analysts said the shift was probably connected to the July 1 presidential election, given past elections in 2006 and 2000 were also preceded by a shift in savings offshore.
"I would put it down to pre-election hedging," UBS economist Rafael de la Fuente said. "My sense is that this money will come back."
Falling foreign direct investment also contrasted with the $6.5 billion Mexicans invested abroad during the quarter, the biggest direct investment outflow since at least 2001.
During the three-month period, Slim's America Movil bought 28 percent of Dutch KPN and boosted its holding in Telekom Austria, while industrial conglomerate Mexichem bought Dutch firm Wavin.
Mexico's foreign reserves rose to a new record of $162.7 billion by the end of June, the figures showed.
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