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MEXICO CITY, April 29 (Reuters) - Mexico’s economy grew faster than expected in the first quarter, helped by a robust pick-up in industrial activity, preliminary data showed on Friday, lifting the peso currency.
The economy expanded by about 0.8 percent from the prior quarter, according to an estimate by the national statistics agency INEGI, beating the 0.5 percent rate in the fourth quarter and expectations of 0.6 percent from analysts in a Reuters poll.
The peso rose more than 1 percent on the growth estimates.
According to INEGI’s advance estimates of first-quarter gross domestic product data, the industrial sector surged 1.5 percent from the October-December period, which would be its best showing since the third quarter of 2010, if confirmed, the data showed. INEGI is scheduled to release the GDP data on May 20.
Latin America’s No. 2 economy suffered last year from uneven U.S. demand, while sinking oil prices and production at state oil giant Pemex has also hammered industrial output in Mexico.
Still, steady domestic demand has supported growth despite a dramatic slump in the peso. The services sector grew by 0.8 percent in the January to March period, just below the 0.9 percent notched in the last quarter of 2015.
Compared with a year earlier, the economy expanded by an estimated 2.9 percent, the statistics agency said. That beat analysts’ expectations for 2.3 percent growth. Year-over-year growth in the first and fourth quarter of 2015 was 2.5 percent.
Analysts polled by Reuters forecast annual growth of 2.4 percent this year, just below the 2.5 percent in 2015. (Reporting by Alexandra Alper and Jean Luis Arce Editing by W Simon)