PANAMA CITY, April 24 (Reuters) - Panama's economic activity slowed in February to its lowest level in nearly two years as traffic through the Central American country's canal and at its ports eased, the government statistics agency said on Wednesday.
February economic activity came in at 6.05 percent compared with the same month in 2012, down from 7.04 percent the prior month and the lowest since March 2011.
Fewer containers arriving at Panama's ports and transiting the canal dragged down February's rate, the agency said.
The easing was in line with prediction from the finance ministry and analysts for 7.0 and 8.5 percent growth for 2013.
The 2012 global slowdown has sapped cargos and crossing through the canal, which transports about 5 percent of world exports.
The tiny nation has enjoyed double-digit growth for four of the past six years, expanding 10.7 percent in 2012. Growth dipped below 8 percent in only three months last year.
Last year's boom was helped by large-scale and ongoing public infrastructure developments, including a $5.25 billion expansion of the Panama Canal and the construction of Central America's first metro. Both projects are drawing to a close, with the metro scheduled to open early next year.
Nevertheless, Panama's mining and construction industries performed well thanks to significant ongoing public infrastructure developments. Transportation and communications sectors also posted gains, largely due to airline growth.
Tourism also continued to grow, boosting the hotel, restaurant and slot machine industry.
After suffering throughout nearly all of 2012, the fishing industry also showed improvement.
(Reporting by Lomi Kriel; Editing by Dan Grebler) Keywords: PANAMA ECONOMY/
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