UPDATE 2-Peru economy grows 6.3 pct in 2012, slows in December
LIMA, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Peru's economy grew 6.3 percent in 2012, one of the fastest paces in Latin America, but slowed in December from the same month a year earlier as holidays ate into building activity, official data showed on Friday. Peru's statistics agency said growth in December was just 0.14 percent from November and 4.3 percent from December of 2011. "It's probable that this is a seasonal issue caused by holidays. In the case of commercial fishing, there was a temporary ban in place," said Alejandro Vilchez of Peru's statistics agency. Efforts to protect Peru's anchovy stocks caused the commercial fishing sector, one of the world's largest, to drop 47 percent in December on the year, while manufacturing declined 2 percent and mining 1.7 percent. Though the construction sector expanded just 5.3 percent in December on the year, well below double-digit paces of previous months, cement consumption in January spiked 18 percent - suggesting building activity will quickly bounce back. Gains in 2012 were led by construction, up 15 percent, and financial services, up 10 percent. Retail sales rose 6.7 percent, underscoring the strength of domestic demand that has fueled growth. Those sectors outpaced the economy's traditional engine of mineral exports as the mining and oil sector grew just 2 percent in 2012. Continued economic expansion has added jobs to the economy in metropolitan Lima, where the average jobless rate in the three months through January was 6.1 percent.
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