DUBAI, (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product grew 6.6 percent from a year earlier in the fourth quarter of last year, accelerating from 5.1 percent growth in the third quarter, the country’s economics ministry said on Wednesday.
The oil sector, which accounts for nearly a third of the economy, expanded 6.1 percent in the fourth quarter, the ministry said in a statement.
Private sector growth, at 9.9 percent, far outpaced the state sector’s 3.6 percent expansion. The construction sector expanded 13.3 percent because of a real estate boom and heavy government spending on infrastructure.
High oil prices and state spending ignited a boom in the Saudi economy last year. The government previously announced that GDP grew 6.8 percent in 2011, up from 4.6 percent in 2010 and its fastest expansion since 2003.
A Reuters poll of analysts last month predicted GDP would grow 4.5 percent this year; the expected slowdown is partly because oil output seems unlikely to rise as much as it did in 2011, when it was boosted in response to civil war in oil producer Libya.