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Typhoon, earthquake curb Philippine growth

The catastrophic typhoon and earthquake that rocked the Philippines last year weighed down on economic growth, the government in Manila has revealed.

The Philippines has been one of Asia's fastest-growing economies for years, but a string of natural catastrophies tempered growth there in the first quarter, data showed Thursday.

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Picking up after the typhoon

Typhoon Haiyan, which left a path of destruction and death across the 100 million-strong nation in November, followed a 7.1-magnitude earthquake a month before.

The disasters hit agriculture and tourism industries worse than expected. Economic growth slowed to 5.7 percent from January to March, down from 7.7 percent in the same period last year, the government said.

"The relatively slow growth is expected given the magnitude of the destruction," said Arsenio Balisacan, the Philippines'economic planning secretary.

Service and industry buoy growth

Last year the Philippine economy grew 7.2 percent, second only to China across Asia.

Consumer confidence has also been on the upswing. The country has also been awarded investment-grade ratings and seen its stock market soar to record levels.

First quarter growth was largely attributed to the services and industry sectors while tourism and agriculture, including fishing, took the biggest hits from the disasters.

Typhoon Haiyan brought the highest wind speeds ever recorded on land and left 7,300 people dead or missing. The earthquake killed more than 200 people as it rocked two islands popular among tourists.

The government in Manila said the country was still on target to meet its goals of 6.5-7.5 percent growth in 2014, in spite of the disasters. It also underscored that first quarter growth was strong compared to the rest of Asia.

The Philippines now has nine consecutive quarters of growth exceeding 5.5 percent.

cjc/kpc (AFP, Reuters)

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