UPDATE 1-Morocco GDP growth slows to 2.9 percent year-on-year in Q1

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RABAT, April 10 (Reuters) - Morocco's economy grew 2.9 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2018, down from 3.8 percent in same period last year, after a drop in agricultural output, the countrys High Planning Commission said on Tuesday.

The Moroccan economy will grow by 3 percent in the second quarter, down from 4.2 percent in the same period last year because of lower agricultural output, the state agency said.

Agricultural activity dropped by 0.5 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, the agency said, noting that agricultural output this year will nevertheless be the third-highest ever registered since 2011 thanks to abundant though late rainfall.

The non-agricultural sector grew by 3.2 percent in the first quarter, up from 2.4 percent year on year, boosted by mining activities and market services, the agency said.

Manufacturing industries grew by 2.4 percent in the first quarter of 2018 compared with 2.3 percent in the same period last year, it said.

Morocco's exports rose by 5.2 percent thanks to an increase in demand from the Eurozone countries, it added.

Cars topped Moroccos exports, bringing 3.8 points to overall export growth, followed by the products of the aeronautical sector, textile and agri-food. Phosphates and its derivatives posted a slight increase of 0.3 percent year on year.

Moroccos imports in the first quarter jumped by 12.5 percent, triggered by a rising domestic demand, the agency said, noting that non-energy imports account for 75 percent of this surge.

Money supply rose 5 percent in the first quarter compared to 5.5 percent in the same period last year.

Moroccos economy will grow by more than 3.2 percent this year, the countrys finance minister said last month.

In January, Morocco launched a more flexible foreign exchange system under free-market reforms recommended by the International Monetary Fund to protect the North African economy against external shocks and safeguard its reserves. (Reporting by Ahmed El Jechtimi Editing by Ulf Laessing, Larry King)