December 26, 2012 / 10:35 PM / in 5 years

UPDATE 1-Panama Oct economic activity rises 10.2 pct yr/yr

PANAMA CITY, Dec 26 (Reuters) - Panama’s economy grew 10.2 percent in October compared with the same period a year earlier, the government’s statistics agency said on Wednesday.

The economy expanded 9.2 percent in October 2011.

Panama’s growth continued to be led by gains in the construction, mining and quarrying industry, mainly because of several large-scale and ongoing public infrastructure projects.

The Central American country is halfway through the $5.3 billion expansion of the Panama Canal and the construction of a $1.25 billion metro system.

It has also benefited from a spike in tourism and transit passengers, which continued to boost the hotel, restaurant and slot machine industries.

Similarly, growth in the aviation industry spurred gains in transportation, as did increased container traffic through the canal and ports.

While the agricultural sector had been faring poorly, it improved in October, especially in cattle, pork and fruit crops such as watermelon and pineapple.

Panama’s manufacturing sector showed gains in food processing and alcoholic beverages.

But the manufacturing of metal, plastic and chemical products declined, as did the fishing industry, which continued showing losses mainly because of a decrease in the species of fish Panama typically exports.

Between January and October, the economy grew 9.6 percent compared with the same period last year. Panama has seen double-digit economic growth over the past few years, expanding 10.5 percent in 2011 with similar expectations for 2012.

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