Pretoria - South Africa's economy contracted more than expected in the first quarter of the year, data showed on Wednesday, putting it on track for its first recession in seven years.
The data weakened the rand against the dollar until the local currency took strength from news that Fitch had affirmed South Africa's investment grade credit rating.
Statistics South Africa said economic output fell by 1.2 percent in the first quarter of 2016 after rising by a revised 0.4 percent in the three months to December, mainly due to an 18-percent slide in the mining sector during the quarter.
Mining contributes nearly 8 percent to GDP but has been hit by weak commodity prices. Agriculture, which accounts for 2.2 percent of GDP, also fell 6.5 percent, reflecting the impact of a crippling drought across southern Africa.
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