Mexico economy fares better than first estimated at start of 2020

Mexican economic activity contracted by less than initially estimated during the first quarter as the coronavirus began to have an impact, but the economy was considerably weaker coming into 2020 than previously reported, data showed on Tuesday.

Figures from national statistics agency INEGI showed that Latin America’s second-biggest economy shrank by 1.2% during the January-March period in seasonally adjusted terms.

Growth in activities like farming and forestry partly offset declines in manufacturing and services during the quarter, producing a result that was substantially better than a decrease in activity of 1.6% estimated by INEGI on April 30.

However, INEGI revised its previous figures to show the economy contracted by 0.6% during the last three months of 2019 and by 0.2% in each of the two prior quarters. The economy grew by 0.2% during the first quarter of 2019, the data showed.

The agency previously said the economy contracted by a tenth of a percentage point in each of the four quarters last year.

Mexico did not apply lockdown measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus until late March, so the impact of the pandemic will weigh heavily on the second quarter.

The lockdown brought key sectors of Mexican industry to an almost complete standstill, and analysts estimate the economy will contract by up to 10% or more during 2020.

A breakdown of INEGI’s first-quarter data showed that primary activities such as farming, forestry, fishing, and mining grew by 1.7% from the previous quarter.

Secondary activities, which include manufacturing, contracted by 1.2%, while tertiary activities, which encompass the service sector, declined 0.9%, the figures showed.

In unadjusted terms, the economy shrank 1.4% compared to the same period a year earlier. That figure was 0.2 percentage points better than the initial estimate.

Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Chizu Nomiyama


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