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RABAT (Reuters) - Morocco's economy grew 5.6 percent in the third quarter as it reaped the benefits of surging farm incomes and industry began recovering from the global economic downturn, the government said on Thursday.
The figure was below an estimate of 6.1 percent published in November. Non-farm growth was 2.6 percent, according to the state High Planning Commission (HCP), lower than the previous estimate of 3.1 percent.
The HCP did not give a reason for the lowered figures. The Moroccan economy grew 5.4 percent in the second quarter and 5.7 percent in the third quarter of 2008.
The government has forecast gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 5.3 percent this year when a record grain harvest boosted farm incomes and domestic consumption. For 2010 it sees growth of 3.5 percent.
Moroccan export industries such as phosphates, textiles and auto-parts were hit by tumbling demand this year but the state has stepped up public investment to bolster domestic demand and Moroccan banks have avoided the worst of the financial crisis.
Industry Minister Ahmed Reda Chami told Reuters last month that the government expected a return to export and employment growth in 2010 as business-friendly reforms help the north African country rebound quicker from the global downturn.
Non-farm growth is watched closely by economists as evidence of the government's success in reducing the economy's reliance on agriculture, boosting job creation and reducing poverty in Morocco's teeming northern cities.
The record grain harvest boosted agricultural GDP by 26 percent in the third quarter, up from 16.1 percent in the same period a year earlier.