UPDATE 1-Argentine economy grew 1.9 pct in 2012, president says

Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:00pm EST

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BUENOS AIRES Feb 13 (Reuters) - Argentina's economy grew by 1.9 percent last year, less than in most of the last 10 years but showing resistance to the global slowdown, President Cristina Fernandez said on Wednesday.

A long boom in Argentina, Latin America's No. 3 economy, lost steam in 2012 due to sluggish external demand, high inflation, a drought-hit 2011-12 grains harvest, and the impact of government import and currency controls on investment.

"Even when we haven't grown with the same intensity as we did in the last 10 years, this year, which was the worst crisis of all, our gross domestic product has grown 1.9 percent," Fernandez said in a televised speech.

She said a stronger performance in the last quarter of 2012 helped pull the figure higher.

Official growth data for December is due to be published on Friday.

In November, the EMAE economic activity index -- a close proxy for GDP -- showed growth of 1.8 percent, well below October's 3.0 percent pace. That brought the measure of growth for the 12-months through November to 2.2 percent year-on-year.

Argentina's central bank forecast 2012 economic growth at about 2 percent and foresees expansion of 4.6 percent this year. In 2011, growth was 8.9 percent.

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