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South Africa grows less than expected

JOHANNESBURG, Nov 23 – South Africa\’s economy grew a less-than-expected 2.6 percent in the third quarter, with the expansion driven primarily by the key mining industry, official data showed Tuesday.

The figure fell well short of market expectations for 3.2 percent growth, with the manufacturing sector unexpectedly contracting 0.8 percent.

"This data is much weaker than expected," said Razia Khan, head Africa researcher for Standard Charter Bank, in a statement.

"Despite an impressive performance in agriculture and mining, the rest of the economy … was firmly in the doldrums."

The government reported last month that another 86,000 jobs were lost in the third quarter, after nearly one million were lost last year as the country grappled with its first recession since the end of apartheid.

The economy began growing again in the second half of 2009.

Statistics South Africa said mining led growth for the past three months, accounting for 1.5 percentage points of the total, while wholesale and retail trade contributed 0.4 points.

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