UPDATE 1-Peru economy grew by weaker-than-expected 3.77 pct in July
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LIMA, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Peru's economy grew by a weaker-than-expected 3.77 percent in July from the same month a year ago amid a steep drop in construction activity and a recovery in fishing and surging copper output, state statistics agency Inei said Thursday.
A Reuters poll had forecast a 4.0 percent year-on-year expansion in July, following June's 3.63 percent pace.
In the first seven months of 2016 the economy of the minerals exporter expanded 4.04 percent year-on-year, thanks largely to production from new copper mines that has buoyed expectations for a recovery from weak growth in recent years.
In July, copper output rose 31.4 percent and fishing activity surged 103.23 percent as anchovy catches in the world's biggest fishmeal producer resumed, Inei said.
Domestic demand, however, has remained weak and the unemployment rate rose to 6.8 percent in June-August from 6.1 percent in the same period of 2015.
Construction slumped 7.53 percent in July, its second straight monthly contraction and its steepest in more than a year, while agriculture dropped 7.15 percent. Manufacturing rose 1.16 percent and retail activity 1.22 percent, Inei said.
The government has forecast a 4 percent expansion in all of 2016, up from the 3.3 percent pace registered in 2015 and the 2.4 percent rate in 2014.
However, the finance minister has said that more must be done to shore up domestic demand in Peru's "two-speed economy" to avoid a slowdown in 2018 when the copper production surge is expected to subside. (Reporting By Teresa Cespedes, Writing by Mitra Taj; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Alistair Bell)
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