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UPDATE 1-Portuguese economy extends robust growth run in first quarter

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LISBON, May 15 (Reuters) - Portugal's economy slightly picked up pace in the first quarter, growing 1.8% on robust domestic consumption and investment, data showed on Wednesday.

Quarter-on-quarter growth was 0.4%, the National Statistics Institute said in a preliminary estimate. Both figures were up a tenth of a percentage point from the previous quarter.

Filipe Garcia, head of InformacĂŁo de Mercados Financeiros consultants in Porto, called the headline figure "another benign number". "It ...represents certain relief given some more pessimistic views expressed at the end of last year," he said.

The Institute said the contribution of external demand fell as import growth outpaced that of exports.

Corresponding data from Brussels for the euro zone showed year-on-year growth of 1.2%. "Generally, the numbers continue to show a deceleration of the euro zone economies, but there is no sign that we are approaching a recession," Garcia said.

Portugal's government expects growth of 1.9% this year and its central bank 1.7%. The country posted growth of 2.1% in 2018 and a 21st-century high of 2.7% in 2017.

(Reporting By Andrei Khalip and Sergio Goncalves; editing by John Stonestreet)

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