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South Africa's Economy Contracts Less Than Expected

South Africa's economy contracted at a slower than expected pace in the first quarter but this was the biggest fall in a year, data from Statistics South Africa showed Tuesday.

Gross domestic product fell 2 percent on a yearly basis after easing 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019. This was the largest decline since the first quarter of 2019, when GDP was down 3.2 percent.

The largest negative contributors were the mining and manufacturing industries. Mining output plunged 21.5 percent and manufacturing shrank 8.5 percent.

Meanwhile, agriculture, finance and general government services provided positive contributions to growth.

On a yearly basis, GDP dropped 0.1 percent after falling 0.5 percent in the fourth quarter.

The fall in the first quarter GDP provides an early sign of the massive economic hit from the country's severe lockdown measures and supports the assessment that further interest rate cuts lie in store, Virág Fórizs, an economist at Capital Economics, said.

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