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Latvian Economy Expands 5%, Slowest Pace in Three Quarters

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Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Latvia’s economy expanded at the slowest pace since the first three months of 2011 in the fourth quarter as manufacturing and export growth slowed.

Gross domestic product rose 5 percent from a year earlier, the statistics office in the capital, Riga, said today in a preliminary estimate. That’s less than a median estimate of 5.2 percent in a Bloomberg survey of eight economists. GDP expanded 0.8 percent on the quarter.

The Baltic nation’s economy has been growing for two years after a debt-fueled property bubble burst, export markets closed and lending tightened, erasing almost a quarter of GDP. The International Monetary Fund cut its forecast for Latvian growth this year to 1.5 percent as turmoil in the euro area curbs export and manufacturing growth.

Industrial output in the last three months of the year decreased a quarterly 0.5 percent and exports fell in November a monthly 2.4 percent. Latvia will release detailed fourth-quarter GDP data on March 9.

The country ended a 7.5 billion-euro ($10 billion) lending program from a group led by the European Commission and the IMF in December.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aaron Eglitis in Riga at aeglitis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

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