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Philippine Economic Growth Accelerates Unexpectedly In Q1

Philippine Economic Growth Accelerates Unexpectedly In Q1

The Philippines' economic growth accelerated unexpectedly to the fastest since 2010 amid robust manufacturing and construction as President Benigno Aquino's reforms put the economy in the list of Asia's fastest growing economies.

Philippines' gross domestic product expanded 7.8 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, the strongest growth rate achieved so far under Aquino administration, the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) said Thursday.

This marked the strongest quarterly growth rate since the second quarter of 2010. Economists expected the GDP growth to slow to 6 percent.

The statistical agency, at the same time, revised up its GDP estimate for the fourth quarter of 2012 to 7.1 percent from the previously reported 6.8 percent growth.

The NSCB said that the robust growth was boosted by the strong performance of manufacturing and construction, backed up by financial intermediation and trade.

On the demand side, increased consumer and government spending shored up by increased investments in construction and durable equipment contributed to GDP, the agency said.

Household spending advanced 5.1 percent and government spending surged 13.2 percent. Investment rose sharply by 47.7 percent. Meanwhile, exports slipped 7 percent and imports gained 1.6 percent.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, GDP grew 2.2 percent in the first quarter compared to the previous three-month period.

The GDP outcome suggests that the economy has benefited from Aquino's efforts to boost consumption and investment. His reforms helped the country gain its first-ever investment grade from international rating agencies such as Fitch Ratings and Standard and Poor's this year.

The Philippines' central bank kept it benchmark interest rate at record low in April, while its Asian peers lowered the rates in response to slower growth. Nonetheless, Bangko Sentral Ng Pilipinas reduced the Special Deposit Account rate thrice this year to moderate capital inflows and currency gains.

by RTT Staff Writer

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