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Argentine economy expands 9.7 pct in April

Source: Reuters

* Consumer spending helping to propel growth (Recasts, adds details, background)

BUENOS AIRES June 25 (Reuters) - Argentina's economy grew at its fastest pace in nearly two years in April, expanding 9.7 percent from a year earlier, the government said on Friday.

Latin America's No. 3 economy has rebounded from a sharp slowdown last year, driven by increased consumer spending and demand for Argentine-made cars in neighboring Brazil.

"Argentina's economic activity has returned to levels before the outbreak of the economic crisis," the consultancy group Economia y Regiones said in a report.

A Reuters poll of 11 analysts gave a median outlook for growth of 7.0 percent in April, with estimates ranging from 6 to 8 percent.

The economy expanded 1.3 percent in April versus March.

Argentina's economy grew 0.9 percent in 2009, according to official data, but many analysts say it probably contracted by 2 percent or more.

Argentina's official economic data has been widely questioned for more than two years as private economists accuse the government of overstating growth and underreporting inflation for political gain.

The government forecasts the economy will expand by 5 percent this year. (Reporting by Luis Andres Henao; Writing by Kevin Gray; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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