(Adds comment from central bank board member, details)
MEXICO CITY, Dec 24 (Reuters) - Mexico’s economy contracted by 0.5% in October from September in seasonally adjusted terms, making a poor start to the fourth quarter after nine months of stagnation, figures from the national statistics agency showed on Tuesday.
The decline in economic output was the biggest since a 0.5% contraction in March, and the third negative reading in four months, according to the data from the agency known as INEGI.
“We started the quarter badly,” Jonathan Heath, one of the five board members of Mexico’s central bank, said on Twitter.
Mexico’s economy has struggled to gain traction under President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who took office in December 2018 pledging to ramp up growth to 4% per year.
Instead, the economy has been flat this year, slipping into a mild recession in the first half of 2019.
A breakdown of the data showed that primary activities, including agriculture, declined by 1.6% during October from the previous month, while secondary activities, such as manufacturing, slipped by 1.1%. Tertiary activities, which include retail and services, declined by 0.1%.
Summing up the latest data, Heath said manufacturing output looked stagnant while construction was going through a “crisis.”
Compared with the same month a year earlier, economic activity in Mexico, Latin America’s No. 2 economy, shrank by 0.8% in unadjusted terms in October, the figures showed. (Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Alison Williams and Andrea Ricci)