UPDATE 3-Mexico growth slows in Q4, 2013 expansion at 4-yr low

viernes 21 de febrero de 2014 15:48 GYT

MEXICO CITY Feb 21 (Reuters) - Mexico's economy slowed sharply in the fourth quarter as industry ground to a halt and the pace of services growth dropped, dragging annual growth to a four-year low, data showed on Friday.

The data highlights mounting concerns about Mexican growth, which has disappointed investors who were excited by a reform drive last year by President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Wavering U.S. demand for Mexican-made exports such as cars and televisions combined with a deep contraction in domestic construction to drag on growth last year.

The economy grew at a 1.1 percent rate in 2013, down sharply from a 3.9 percent expansion in 2012, the statistics agency said, marking its weakest performance since 2009 when Mexico slumped into a deep recession.

Polls have showed economists expect Mexico to grow about 3.4 percent this year, but some are already revising down their outlooks after recent weak data.

"The picture that comes out of that is that Mexico's recovery will be sort of gradual and maybe not as a strong and robust as expected," said Benito Berber, an analyst at Nomura Securities.

Barclays lowered its 2014 growth forecast to 3 percent from 3.7 after the data, noting that recent tax hikes and bad weather in the United States, Mexico's top trade partner, could put a damper on industry and consumption early this year.

Gross domestic product grew 0.2 percent last quarter compared to the prior three months, below expectations for a 0.45 percent expansion in a Reuters poll.   Continuación...