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Source: Marketwatch

BUENOS AIRES--Argentina's economy will expand by a healthy 4% to 5% this year, a forecast significantly higher than other estimates, Industry Minister Debora Giorgi said in a press release Friday.

Mrs. Giorgi's figures are more optimistic than forecasts from the government and are sharply higher than private estimates.

According to the 2013 federal budget submitted to Congress last week, the economy is expected to grow 3.4% this year and 4.4% the next.

Argentina's economy stalled during the first half of the year, but there are signs that things are starting to pick up.

Second-quarter gross domestic product slumped 0.8% on the quarter and was unchanged on the year due to slack growth in top trading partner Brazil and government trade and currency polices that disrupted activity. That was down sharply from the 8.9% growth seen last year and 9.2% expansion in 2010.

However, most economists are optimistic the economy has touched bottom and is set to post better growth next year, thanks largely to greater demand for Argentine goods in Brazil and expectations for a record soybean crop at home.

Mrs. Giorgi also estimated that industrial production would end the year with an expansion of 4% as manufacturing bounces back in the remaining months. During the first eight months of the year, industrial production was down 0.8%, or 1.2% in seasonally-adjusted terms, according to the national statistics agency Indec.

The rosy predictions are significantly higher than many private forecasts.

Earlier Friday, Standard and Poor's ratings service said it expects Argentina's economy to expand just 1.5% this year.

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