* Mexico Oct economic growth 4.33 pct yr/yr; poll 3.8 pct
* Spending on new investment goods up 9.5 pct yr/yr in Oct
* Economists, investors see no change to interest rates
* Auto production edges up 0.02 pct in Dec -AMIA
MEXICO CITY, Jan 10 Mexico's economic activity
accelerated in October on strength in the services sector,
easing fears that the global economic slowdown is dragging on
Latin America's No. 2 economy.
Official data on Thursday showed annual economic activity
grew 4.33 percent in the 12 months through October,
trumping expectations for 3.80 percent growth in a Reuters poll.
The pace outstripped the downwardly revised 1.21 percent
expansion notched in the prior month.
"It's an important bounce, particularly in services," said
Iker Cabiedes, an economist at JPMorgan in Mexico City, who said
internal demand was helping to bolster an economy that had
faltered in the third quarter. "The data indicates that we could
see activity recover" in the fourth quarter.
Unexpectedly strong U.S. demand for Mexican-made cars and
televisions has also helped maintain output despite a downturn
in the global environment, and a raft of reforms proposed by new
President Enrique Pena Nieto could further bolster growth.
The economic data, seen as a proxy for gross domestic
product, prompted Mexican bank Banorte to revise its 2012 growth
forecast up to 4 percent, from 3.7 percent. Barclays, which has
been forecasting a 3.8 percent expansion, said the fourth
quarter was looking better than expected.
Mexico's services sector, which makes up 65 percent of the
economy, expanded 4.1 percent in the 12 months through October,
while manufacturing activity picked up by 3.6 percent.
On a monthly basis, economic activity expanded
by 0.16 percent in October, weighed down by a 0.86 percent
contraction in manufacturing. That was below forecast for 0.69
percent growth in a Reuters poll.
In separate data, Mexico's automakers produced and exported
a record number of vehicles in 2012, according to the Mexican
Auto Industry Association (AMIA).
The central bank has held benchmark interest rates steady at
4.5 percent, in a bid to balance growth risks from a global
slowdown and inflation pressures prompted by a spike in
fresh-food prices in early 2012.
But annual inflation in December fell below the central
bank's 4 percent tolerance ceiling for the first time in seven
months, bolstering expectations that rates will remain on hold
Mexico's biggest retailer, Wal-Mart de Mexico,
said on Monday that sales at its Mexican stores open for at
least a year rose 1.6 percent in December from a year earlier.
Other data released Thursday showed annual spending on new
investment goods in Mexico rose in October by 9.5
percent, led by 19.3 percent expansion in investment in
machinery and equipment. That compared with downwardly revised
growth of 3.0 percent in the prior month.
"Mexico is enjoying certain international factors that are
playing in its favor," said Ezequiel Aguirre, a Latin America
strategist at Bank of America in New York, who noted that rising
salaries in China and expensive transport driven by higher fuels
costs are pushing companies to relocate plants to Mexico.
But the monthly measure of spending on machinery, equipment
and new construction was down 0.3 percent, below
September's downwardly revised 0.97 percent expansion.
President Pena Nieto's administration, which began in
December, has projected Mexico's economy will grow 3.5 percent
in 2013, down from an estimated 3.9 percent in 2012 as the
global slowdown weighs.
The chief of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development, Angel Gurria, on Wednesday said growth could touch
6 percent within the next six years if the new government
succeeds in pushing through an ambitious reform agenda