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Lithuania’s Economic Growth Slowed in First Quarter to 3.9%

Lithuania’s economic growth slowed in the first quarter as Europe’s debt crisis sapped demand for the Baltic nation’s exports.

Gross domestic product expanded a preliminary 3.9 percent from a year earlier, compared with 4.4 percent growth in the previous three months, the statistics office in the capital, Vilnius, said today by e-mail. That’s more than the 3.5 percent median estimate of six economists in a Bloomberg survey. GDP rose a seasonally adjusted 0.8 percent from the fourth quarter.

Lithuania’s economy grew at the second-fastest pace in the European Union in the October-December period before exports slowed amid renewed concern that euro-area nations such as Spain will require bailouts. Growth may decelerate to 2.5 percent in 2012 from 5.9 percent last year, the Finance Ministry predicts.

“We expected a slightly worse GDP figure, hence we see this data release as positive news,” Rokas Bancevicius, chief analyst at DnB Bank in Vilnius, said in an e-mailed comment.“Even though the growth rate is falling, the decline is gradual. We see further deceleration in the remainder of 2012 because of a sluggish global economy.”

Exports grew 11.9 percent from a year earlier in the two months through February, compared with a 50 percent jump in the first quarter of 2011, according to the statistics office. The yield on Lithuania’s dollar bond due 2022 fell 0.3 percentage point today to 5.02.

The office is due to release a breakdown of first-quarter GDP on May 30.

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