The economy grew by an annualized 3 percent in the first quarter of 2012, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported Wednesday. beating the 2.5% growth predicted in a "Bloomberg" poll of analysts.
Despite topping expectations, GDP growth was nevertheless lower than in the two preceding quarters: 3.2% in the fourth quarter of 2011 and 3.3% in the third quarter.
The Central Bureau of Statistics said the growth was due to higher exports and imports of goods and services; higher private consumption; investment in fixed assets, and modest growth in public spending.
The GDP growth report includes some worrying data, however. Business product growth fell to 2.8% from 3.5% in the previous quarter and 4.5% in the quarter before that. The figure highlights the slowdown in the business sector, the economy's growth engine.