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Colombia says economy to grow between 2.3-2.5 pct in third quarter

BOGOTA, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Colombia's economy will likely expand between 2.3 percent and 2.5 percent in the third quarter, compared with the same quarter last year, a government official said on Wednesday, an increase from first half figures.

The Andean country has been grappling for more than two years with high inflation and falling economic growth. The figures would be the highest quarterly expansion since the end of 2015, and well above the 1.2 percent growth recorded in the third quarter of last year.

"What we see is an acceleration of growth," National Planning Department head Luis Fernando Mejia told journalists.

The agriculture and financial sectors have helped boost expansion lately, while former economic stalwarts mining and oil have fallen amid low global prices.

Third quarter growth figures will be released on November 15.

The government estimates the country will grow 2 percent this year and 3 percent next year, projections considered overly optimistic by analysts, who predict growth of 1.6 percent for this year and 2.5 percent for 2018.

S&P Global Ratings said on Tuesday it would wait until the end of the year to evaluate Colombia's credit rating in order to have more economic data, amid expansion that is too low to reverse current fiscal headaches.

Mejia said the government estimates $11.1 billion in foreign direct investment in Colombia this year, down from the $13.59 billion recorded last year. (Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; editing by Diane Craft)