South Africa dodges recession as economy grows 3.3 pct

(AFP), Tuesday 6 Sep 2016

South Africa avoided slipping into recession Tuesday with official statistics showing the economy grew 3.3 percent in the second quarter after a 1.2 percent contraction in the previous quarter.The annualized growth rate was mainly spurred by the manufacturing sector which expanded by 8.1 percent, as well as the real estate and transport sectors that both increased at 2.9 percent.

"Real gross domestic product increased by 3.3 percent in the second quarter of 2016, following a decrease of 1.2 percent in the first quarter of 2016," Stats' reported.

Ned bank economists said the "significantly" improved GDP outcome had surpassed predictions and was "heavily influenced by the first quarter's very low base."

Fears had grown that Africa's largest economy was teetering on the brink of a recession after it suffered a surprise dip in growth in the first three months of the year.

The economy has struggled amid political scandals that hit the rand, as well as high inflation, high unemployment and a record drought that ravaged the agricultural sector.

The central bank had forecasted in June that the economy would grow at zero percent this year.

"The improvement in economic activity over the second quarter was widely anticipated, but few expect this pace to be sustained over the next 12 to 18 months," said Ned bank.

The economic outlook could also be darkened by possible criminal charges against Finance Minister Provide Gordian.

Gordian was appointed last year to calm panicked markets after his predecessor lasted just four days in office, but has come under attack from some close allies of President Jacob Zuma.

The country risks a damaging credit ratings downgrade to junk status later this year.

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