UPDATE 3-Argentina economy grows in Q1, surprising analysts

miércoles 29 de junio de 2016 21:36 GYT

(Adds comments from Argentina's Finance Minister)

By Joanna Zuckerman Bernstein and Antonio De la Jara

BUENOS AIRES, June 29 (Reuters) - Argentina's economy grew 0.5 percent in the first quarter, confounding expectations it would shrink, the government said on Wednesday, adding that it saw activity evening out this year before accelerating in 2017.

The year-on-year result, published by the newly revamped Indec statistics agency, followed analysts' forecasts for a 1.3 percent contraction for the January through March period, according to a Reuters poll.

Latin America's third largest economy was helped by 7.5 percent growth in its fishing sector and 4.2 percent expansion in transport. Construction and agriculture, crucial because the country is a grains-exporting powerhouse, both fell by more than 5 percent, Indec said.

The result follows efforts by President Mauricio Macri, who took office in December, to boost the economy through free-market measures.

Indec also revised its 2015 growth figure to 2.37 percent from the 2.1 percent expansion Macri's government initially reported for last year.

"There's a mix in the economy. There are sectors that are moving along at a good pace and other sectors that are dragging," Argentine finance minister Alfonso Prat-Gay said on the sidelines of the Pacific Alliance trade bloc summit in Puerto Varas, Chile.

"We think that by the time we get to the end of the year all this is going to be evened out and certainly, next year will be a year of growth," he added.   Continuación...