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Argentina September economic activity beats expectations

BUENOS AIRES, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Argentina's economic activity grew 4.7 percent in September compared with the same month last year, the government said on Friday, exceeding market expectations.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a 3.9 rise in the monthly EMAE economic activity index, which they said benefited from increased consumption due to more business days in September than the year-ago month.

However, in a sign growth may be cooling despite the strong annual figure, the INDEC statistics office said that September economic activity, which is a close proxy for gross domestic product, was flat compared with August.

Government data on Friday also showed Argentina's inflation rate edged up to 0.9 percent in October compared with 0.8 percent in September.

The country's inflation figures, and to a lesser extent its growth data, are widely disputed and private economists estimated that consumer prices rose 2.1 percent last month.

The International Monetary Fund censured Argentina in February for failing to improve the accuracy of its economic data and on Wednesday said it would meet on Dec. 9 to review a report on the topic.

The government of the South American grains exporting country expects gross domestic product to expand 5.1 percent in 2013, following GDP growth of 1.9 percent in 2012 and 8.9 percent in 2011, according to official figures.

Accumulated growth through September was up 5.4 percent from the same period of 2012, according to INDEC. If growth surpasses 3.22 percent in 2013, the government will be required to dip into diminishing foreign currency reserves and pay up to $3 billion in GDP-linked bond warrants in 2014.

Last year's growth was restricted by weak global demand, a drought-hit grain harvest, high inflation and the negative impact of currency controls on investment in Latin America's No. 3 economy. In September of 2012, Argentina's economy contracted 0.7 percent on an annual basis.