April 25, 2013 / 7:51 PM / in 5 years

UPDATE 2-Argentina March industry output improves from February

BUENOS AIRES, April 25 (Reuters) - Argentina’s March industrial production inched up 0.2 percent from a year earlier and rose 1.5 percent versus the previous month, improving after February’s poor performance due to a jump in automobile production.

The year-on-year figure released on Thursday came in below the 0.9 percent median growth forecast given in a Reuters poll. Estimates ranged widely from a 2.1 percent decline to growth of 3.5 percent.

In February, factory output surprised the market by sinking 4.4 percent from a year earlier and falling 1.5 percent versus January, seasonally adjusted.

Argentina’s economic growth slowed abruptly in 2012 after a nearly nine-year boom. Inflation remains persistently high with private estimates hovering near 25 percent a year - one of the world’s highest rates.

Industrial production fell in 2012 for the first time in a decade, partly due to sagging demand for Argentine cars in neighboring Brazil.

In March, automobile output surged 18.4 percent from a year earlier and 45.8 percent versus February, possibly reflecting planned maintenance shutdowns during that month.

The production of building materials including glass and cement rose 7.6 percent year-on-year and 13.5 percent versus February, the INDEC statistics agency reported.

In the first quarter, industrial production as a whole fell 1.3 percent year-on-year and 0.8 percent versus the fourth quarter of 2012.

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