The Santander financial group has lowered its 2013 growth forecast for Mexico from 2.6 percent to 2.2 percent, even though it expects the country's economy to improve in the year's second half.

The bank said in a statement it was maintaining its outlook for moderate improvement in the second half of the year but believed growth in that period would be less than previously expected.

The institution said Mexico's economy expanded 1.6 percent in the first half of the year and is forecasting 2.7 percent growth between July and the end of December.

The Spanish group said it expected economic growth in the United States - Mexico's biggest trading partner - to improve in the second half, while in Mexico it predicted that a recovery in public-sector spending and less inflationary pressure would boost consumer spending.

The bank said it still expected Mexico's economy would grow 3.8 percent in 2014.

Next week, the Finance Secretariat is scheduled to release definitive Mexican GDP data for the second quarter, a period in which weak industrial production figures surprised economists.

The central bank last week lowered its 2013 growth forecast for Mexico, saying it now predicted the economy would growth at a clip of between 2 percent and 3 percent, down from an earlier range of between 3 percent and 4 percent.

The Mexican government is forecasting the economy will grow 3.1 percent this year, down from a previous forecast of 3.5 percent growth. EFE