Philippine economic growth suffered a sharp slowdown in the first quarter, a rare miss from its usual solid showing.
The economy grew 5.2 percent in the three months ended March from the year-ago period, data showed on Thursday, compared with the 6.6 percent expansion in the fourth quarter, and missing a Reuters forecast of 6.6 percent.
The expansion, the slowest in three years, was hampered by a dramatic drop in exports, which grew just 1 percent on year compared with 12.8 percent in the fourth-quarter, and as government spending faltered.
Investment remained a bright spot, however, expanding by 10.1 percent on year.
On a quarterly basis, seasonally adjusted growth was 0.3 percent against the fourth quarter's 2.5 percent pace, the slowest quarterly growth in six years.
The stock market slumped on the news, trading down 1.25 percent at mid-day, while the peso reversed earlier gains against the dollar to trade at 44.70.
But analysts broadly took the disappointment in stride, believing the slowdown to be one-off.
"The Philippines economy slowed quite sharply in the first quarter, largely owing to a slowdown in export growth. We do not see cause for too much alarm. Exports are likely to recover later in the year, and domestic demand is still growing at a very healthy rate," Daniel Martin, senior Asia Economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note.
Southeast Asia's fifth-largest economy has bucked the global trend of monetary policy easing due to solid economic growth, putting it among the fastest-growing major Asian economies. Its improved fiscal position and governance has also led to ratings upgrades, making it a recent standout with investors.
Martin thinks the GDP print is unlikely to trigger measures from the central bank, although it makes the government's 7-8 percent growth forecast for the full year decidedly optimistic.