Page last updated at 07:20 GMT, Wednesday, 20 May 2009 08:20 UK

Venezuela growth at five-year low

Oil well
Demand for oil has fallen

Venezuela's economy grew at its slowest rate in five years during the first quarter, as the country felt the effect of falling oil prices.

In the first three months of the year, output rose 0.3% from the same period a year earlier, the slowest level since 2003, the Central Bank said.

Compared with the previous quarter, the economy shrank by 16.4%.

Crude oil prices are more than half their peak of around $147 a barrel seen last July, hit by the global slowdown.

While prices have recovered slightly recently, they are hovering around $60 a barrel.

Venezuela depends for more than 90% of its exports on oil. But as the price of oil has fallen, oil-producing cartel Opec, which includes Venezuela as a member, decided to reduce output to boost prices.

The first quarter saw a contraction of 4.8% in the oil sector.

Revenues from crude oil are down 56% this year, leading to a $3.5bn (£2.26bn) current account deficit.

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