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Venezuela Posts 8.8 Percent 1Q Growth

Venezuela's economy grew 8.8 percent between January and March of 2007 compared to the same three-month period a year earlier, but oil industry activity shrank sharply, the Central Bank said Tuesday.

A 10.6 percent increase in non-oil related business provided much of the impetus for the first-quarter growth, according to gross domestic product data issued by the bank. GDP measures the value of all goods and services produced in an economy.

The growth in non-oil activity was led by construction, telecommunications and retail.
But output from the country's oil sector - Venezuela's most important industry providing about half of government revenues - fell 5.6 percent. The bank attributed the decline to cuts in oil production that Venezuela agreed to as a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

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