Turkmen Jan-Sept GDP rises 11.1 pct yr/yr - president


By Marat Gurt

ASHGABAT, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Turkmenistan's economy expandedby 11.1 percent in the first nine months of 2012, slowing from14.6 percent in the same period a year ago, President KurbangulyBerdymukhamedov was quoted as saying on Thursday.

Berdymukhamedov, who wields virtually unlimited powers inthe reclusive Central Asian nation of 5.5 million, is the mainsource of macroeconomic statistics.

Turkmenistan's economic growth hinges on the development andexports of its natural gas riches. The Muslim desert nationholds the world's fourth-largest natural gas reserves, trailingonly Russia, Iran and Qatar.

The president, a professional dentist widely titled"Arkadag" (The Patron), gave no reason for the relative slowdownin GDP growth in January-September.

"The rate of the national currency is kept stable. Inflationis kept within a targeted range," television showed theautocratic ruler saying on Thursday. He did not elaborate.

Quoting official data, local media reported thatTurkmenistan's gas output grew by 8.5 percent in the first ninemonths of this year compared to the same period of 2011. Theygave no absolute figures.

BP data shows the country consumed less than half of the59.5 billion cubic metres it produced last year.

A monitoring mission of the International Monetary Fund,which visited Turkmenistan in July, said in its report that itprojected real GDP growth to remain strong in 2012-13, at about8 percent ().

Increasing gas exports to China and a surge in publicinvestment enabled a strong GDP growth of 14.7 percent in 2011,the Fund said.

"Greater hydrocarbon exports would strengthen the externalposition further," the IMF said.

"Inflation is expected to remain in single digits. Directeconomic spillovers to Turkmenistan from the euro area crisisare likely to remain limited."

Headline inflation increased from 4.8 percent in 2010 to 5.6percent in 2011, but moderated to 3 percent in June 2012, theFund said.

Turkmenistan's State Statistics Committee said last year'sinflation measured 5.3 percent. It said that in the first halfof 2012 it had actually registered deflation of 1.8 percent. Ithas not published any fresh consumer price data.

(Reporting by Marat Gurt; Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; editingby Patrick Graham)