Mexico Economy Expanded 5.5% in 2010, Most in 10 Years

Mexico’s gross domestic product expanded last year at the fastest pace in a decade as Latin America’s second-biggest economy recovered from a 2009 recession provoked by the global financial crisis.

GDP, the broadest measure of a country’s output of goods and services, grew 5.5 percent last year, the most since 2000, the national statistics agency said on its website. GDP expanded 4.6 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier. The economy was forecast to grow 4.4 percent in the final quarter, according to a survey of 13 analysts by Bloomberg.

The economy grew more than forecast in the fourth quarter because the U.S. performed better than analysts had expected, a trend that will probably continue to boost growth in its southern neighbor this year, said Sergio Martin, chief economist for Mexico at HSBC Holding Plc.

“It was undoubtedly a high number,” Martin said in a telephone interview from Mexico City. “The fourth-quarter dynamic helps you see the boost from the U.S.” that will continue in 2011.

In the U.S., rising consumer spending, business investment and exports are ensuring the economy continues to grow even as housing remains depressed. Federal Reserve policy makers said in minutes released Feb. 16 that the U.S. recovery was on a “firmer footing” while the labor market was improving “gradually.”

Growth Outlook

Mexico’s economy will probably grow more than 4.5 percent this year, Deputy Finance Minister Gerardo Rodriguez said in a Feb. 18 interview. Same-store sales grew 4.8 percent in January, according to the country’s retail association.

Mexican Finance Minister Ernesto Cordero said today that while export growth was the main driver of the economy last year, domestic demand is expected to play an equally important role this year.

“It’s much more balanced growth with a much more dynamic domestic sector,” Cordero told reporters in Mexico City.

Mexico’s peso fell 0.2 percent to 12.0621 per dollar at 3:13 p.m. New York time. The currency has strengthened 2.3 percent this year, the best performance against the dollar among the major Latin American currencies tracked by Bloomberg.

GDP grew 4.1 percent in December from a year earlier, the statistics agency said. The economy expanded 1.3 percent in the fourth quarter on a seasonally adjusted basis compared with the previous quarter, the agency said.

The manufacturing sector grew 6 percent and construction expanded 4.3 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, the agency said. The services industry expanded 5 percent in 2010 and 4.2 percent in the fourth quarter.