(Bloomberg) -- Peru’s economy contracted in March, surprising economists who’d expected modest growth, as the South American country slowly walks out of its second-worst recession in 33 years. 

The economic activity index, a proxy for gross domestic product, fell 0.28% from the same month a year earlier, the national statistics agency INEI said Wednesday. The median estimate of 11 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for 0.8% growth and only one analyst had forecast a contraction. Output also fell 0.29% compared to the previous month.

The annual comparison reflects seasonal fluctuations, especially anchovy fishing which fell more than 30%. Peru also had more holidays this March than it did last year, due to Easter weekend.

But the negative reading also highlights a tepid economic recovery in Peru, as President Dina Boluarte continues to struggle to jump start growth, while being mired in sprawling corruption scandals. The contraction comes after two consecutive months of growth and a recession in 2023. 

The central bank, however, is expecting growth to accelerate in coming months, putting the overall increase in output for the year at 3%. Higher copper prices should also support the expansion, as Peru is a major global producer of the metal. 

In the first quarter of the year, INEI said the economy had grown 1.38% compared to the same period in 2023. Official gross domestic figures for the quarter are set to be published in coming weeks. 

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