UPDATE 1-Bulgaria economy grows in Q3, inflation up

SOFIA, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Bulgaria's economy crawled out of a prolonged recession on a year-on-year basis in the third quarter, expanding 0.2 percent from the same period a year earlier, the statistics office said on Friday. On a quarterly basis the economy grew 0.3 percent, though that marked a slowdown from a 0.5 percent expansion in the second quarter, mainly due to a drop in consumption and investment, a flash estimate of seasonally adjusted data showed. The Balkan economy shrank in the second quarter by 1.4 percent on an annual basis, seasonably unadjusted data showed, and by 0.3 percent when seasonally adjusted, the statistics office said. Consumer price inflation quickened to 3.9 percent in October year-on-year, mainly due to a hike in alcohol and cigarette prices. On a monthly basis, consumer prices were up 0.6 percent. The government expects a pickup in exports to western Europe to bring the emerging economy to growth of 0.7 percent for 2010 as a whole, which will steer inflation to 4.1 percent at the end of the year. But many analysts say still weak domestic demand and a slower than expected recovery of the country's key export markets in western Europe will keep Bulgaria's growth to zero levels in 2010. The statistics office data showed individual consumption, which was the key driver of economic growth in past years, fell by an annual 7.2 percent in the third quarter from a 3.7 fall in the second quarter. (Reporting by Irina Ivanova) Keywords: BULGARIA GDP/ (irina.ivanova@thomsonreuters.com; +359-2-939-97-36; Reuters Messaging: irina.ivanova.reuters.com@reuters.net) COPYRIGHT Copyright Thomson Reuters 2010. All rights reserved.

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