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Peru economy to grow 5.6 pct in Q4 -cenbank chief

SANTIAGO, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Peru's economy is set to grow 5.6 percent in the fourth quarter, slower than previously forecast but picking up from the prior period, central bank president Julio Velarde said on Monday during a visit to neighboring Chile.

The central bank had estimated in October that the economy would likely expand between 6.2 percent and 6.3 percent in the last three months of 2013.

Still, 5.6 percent growth would mark an increase from the third quarter's 4.4 percent, the slowest quarterly pace in four years compared with the same period a year ago.

"That's due in part to an improved mood (in terms of investment) as well as an improvement in the primary sector," Velarde told reporters during an event in Santiago.

As a top global exporter of copper, gold and silver, Peru has taken a hit from weaker mineral prices and softer demand from China.

Growth has eased from the red-hot levels clocked last year, when the economy expanded 6.3 percent.

The economy will grow between 5.1 percent and 5.2 percent this year, Velarde said, before gathering speed to average 6.3 percent between 2014 and 2016.

The bank surprised the market last month by cutting the benchmark interest rate for the first time in more than four years to stimulate the economy.

But growth in the Andean country is still set to top many of its peers'.

Regional powerhouse Brazil's economy contracted in the third quarter for the first time since early 2009, for instance.