UPDATE 1-Argentina economy exceeds forecasts in Feb

Fri Apr 19, 2013 3:56pm EDT

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BUENOS AIRES, April 19 (Reuters) - Argentina's economy grew 2.3 percent in February compared to the year before, the statistics institute said on Friday, slightly better than the 2.0 percent growth expected by analysts.

The EMAE economic activity index grew 0.3 percent compared to January.

Latin America's No. 3 economy boomed during most of the last decade but growth has slowed sharply over the past year due in part to a sour investment climate under President Cristina Fernandez.

Argentina's gross domestic product, which is reported quarterly, expanded 2.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 from a year earlier.

The country is widely accused of manipulating inflation data and, to a lesser extent, growth data. It faces potential sanctions by the International Monetary Fund, which has issued a "declaration of censure" against Argentina over the quality of its inflation and GDP data.

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