UPDATE 1-Vietnam Jan-Sept GDP growth slows to 4.73 pct y/y

Wed Sep 26, 2012 11:38pm EDT

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HANOI, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Vietnam's economy grew an estimated 4.73 percent in the first nine months of this year from a year ago, slowing from the 5.77-percent annual expansion in the same period last year, the government said on Thursday.

Vietnam's economy has grown at a slower pace this year as the government tightened lending standards in the early months of the year to help control inflation.

Banks battling bad debt also slowed loans to keep their books clean, putting pressure on businesses seeking funds for expansion.

Annualised economic expansion in the three months ending September accelerated to an estimated 5.35 percent, from 4.66 percent in the April-June period, the General Statistics Office said in a report.

"The nine-month economic growth is reasonable under the circumstances. The country has been focusing on fulfilling the 2012 annual targets giving priority to curbing inflation and stabilising the macro economy," the report said.

Inflation this month reached 6.48 percent from a year ago, the highest in three months, and the monthly consumer price index also posted the fastest growth since May 2011, rising 2.2 percent from August, government data showed.

Vietnam's economic growth could reach an annual rate of 5.5 percent over the whole of 2012, while annual inflation would be kept at 6 percent, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung was quoted earlier this month as saying.

Fitch Ratings has forecast Vietnam's economy will grow about 5 percent this year, compared with 2011's 5.89 percent. (Reporting by Ho Binh Minh; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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