PRETORIA – South Africa’s economy expanded more than expected in the final quarter of last year largely driven by a recovery in agriculture and trade, Statistics South Africa said on Tuesday.
The statistics agency said the economy of Africa’s most industrialised country grew by 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017 after expanding by a revised 2.3 percent in the third quarter.
The growth was above market expectations of a quarter-on-quarter GDP expansion of 1.8 percent, according to a poll.
The rand, which was largely flat before the release of the data, firmed more than 0.5 percent against the dollar to a session high of 11.7575/dollar. Government bonds also firmed.
The agriculture industry registered the highest growth at 37.5 percent, although the expansion was slower than in the third quarter when the sector grew 41.1 percent.
Trade recovered in the fourth quarter to expand 4.8 percent after falling by 0.1 percent in the prior quarter, while manufacturing grew 4.3 percent from 3.7 percent in the third quarter.
“Primary industries had very robust growth and that was emanating from the amount of crops and harvest from agricultural and fisheries sector,” Statistics South Africa Deputy Director General Joe de Beer said.
Gross domestic product rose 1.5 percent on an unadjusted year-on-year basis in the fourth quarter, compared with a revised 1.3 percent expansion in the previous three months.
The economy grew by 1.3 percent in 2017 compared a revised h 0.6 percent in 2016, the agency said.