Fastest Saudi GDP growth since early 2016

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Saudi Arabia's economy grew at its fastest rate since early 2016 in the third quarter, boosted by expansion of the oil sector while non-oil growth stayed sluggish, statistics agency data showed on Monday.

Gross domestic product grew 2.5 percent from a year earlier. That was an acceleration from the second quarter, when GDP rose 1.6 percent and the fastest since the first quarter of 2016, when the same rate was registered.

The Saudi economy has been hit hard in recent years by low oil prices and state austerity measures to curb a huge budget deficit. Last year, it shrank for the first time since the global financial crisis nearly a decade earlier.

Monday's data suggested the recovery from that slump was still tentative. GDP growth picked up largely because of higher oil output; the oil sector expanded 3.7 percent from a year ago in the third quarter, after 1.3 percent in the second.

Growth in the non-oil sector, key for job creation and Saudi Arabia's effort to diversify its economy, slowed to 2.1 percent from 2.4 percent.

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