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Ecuador economy grew 7.8 pct in 2011

 (Reuters) - Ecuador's economy grew 7.8 percent in 2011 from a year earlier as stronger oil prices helped OPEC's smallest member double its growth rate from 2010, the central bank said on Friday. 

The expansion was the fastest under President Rafael Correa, whose welfare programs and liberal state spending have boosted his popularity. Still, growth was slower than the government's forecast of more than 9 percent.


The oil sector grew 4.2 percent in 2011, recovering from a 2.7 percent contraction in the previous year, helped by crude oil prices that spiked amid unrest in the Middle East and North Africa.


In the fourth quarter of 2011, the economy grew 6.1 percent, compared with the same period a year earlier.

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