Argentine economy shrinks in fourth quarter on lower exports

BUENOS AIRES Fri May 9, 2014 5:06pm EDT

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BUENOS AIRES May 9 (Reuters) - Argentine gross domestic product contracted 0.4 percent in the last three months of 2013 after expanding 1.0 percent in the previous quarter, official data showed on Friday, pointing to growing weakness in Latin America's No. 3 economy.

The economy is grappling with one of the world's highest inflation rates, difficult access to capital, complex export and import restrictions and falling central bank reserves.

The quarter-on-quarter data from the Indec National Statistics Agency stated that exports dropped 7.0 percent, outweighing a 3.5 percent fall in imports, while private consumption was down 2.6 percent.

The data was calculated using a different methodology this year, which accounts for the difference between the third quarter reading and an originally reported fall of 0.2 percent.

The government changed the base when it reported full-year 2013 growth of 3.0 percent in March without giving a quarterly breakdown. The reading was below the level that would have triggered $3.5 billion in payments to holders of GDP bond warrants.

Many analysts expect a recession by the end of the year. The median forecast in a Reuters poll published last month was for a 0.4 percent full-year contraction. (Writing by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Diane Craft)

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