UPDATE 1-Argentina April industrial output up 1.7 pct over year-ago
BUENOS AIRES May 24 (Reuters) - Argentina's April industrial production rose 1.7 percent from a year earlier , buoyed by a big jump in automobile output and more modest gains in the production of building materials, government data showed on Friday.
The figure came in below the 2.0 percent median growth forecast given in a Reuters poll, in which estimates ranged from 0.5 percent to 4.0 percent.
Compared with March, industrial output inched up 0.1 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis, the INDEC national statistics institute said.
Argentina's economy, the third-biggest in Latin America, has slowed sharply in the past year after booming during most of the last decade. Analysts ascribe this to soft global demand, high inflation and the negative impact of currency and trade controls on investment.
In the first four months of the year, industrial production fell 0.5 percent versus the same period of 2012, INDEC said.
In April, automobile production surged 38.8 percent from a year earlier while non-metallic minerals - including glass and cement - rose 7.5 percent.
In April versus March, oil refining dropped 16.4 percent, likely reflecting the impact of a fire at the country's biggest refinery complex.
Overall industrial production rose 0.2 percent in March year-on-year and 1.5 percent versus February.