Panama economic growth cools to three-month low in November

PANAMA CITY Fri Jan 24, 2014 11:28pm EST

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PANAMA CITY Jan 24 (Reuters) - Panamanian economic activity eased in November to its slowest pace since August, the national statistics agency said late on Friday.

Economic activity rose 7.95 percent in November compared with the same month last year, below the 8.26 percent rate notched in October.

The finance ministry projects Panama's $33 billion economy expanded 8.5 percent last year.

Though the economy is stepping back from the double-digit growth Panama has posted in four of the past six years, it is still one of the fastest-growing in the region.

The growth is spurred by massive infrastructure spending, including the ongoing expansion of the Panama canal, which began in 2007, and the $1.8 billion construction of Central America's first metro rail system.

But since the start of 2014, the Panama Canal Authority has been embroiled in a public row with the consortium known as Grupo Unidos Por el Canal over $1.6 billion in added costs the GUPC says have arisen during work on the project.

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