epa-efeMexico City

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday touted the creation of more than 269,000 jobs in the first quarter, saying he would win the "wager" he has with financial experts, who are forecasting low economic growth in Mexico.

"According to the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS), the number of covered workers increased in the January-March quarter ... and 269,143 jobs were created," the president said during his daily press conference at the National Palace.

Such numbers, he said, had not been seen "in 10 years in a similar period."

The job numbers gave Lopez Obrador, the leader of the leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena), evidence to claim that the economy is growing.

The president has said that Mexico's gross domestic product (GDP) can grow 4 percent, on average, during his 2018-2024 administration.

"The bet is on with the specialists, with the banks, with the financiers, who have predicted that we are going to have less growth than we are estimating," Lopez Obrador said.

According to financial institutions and international economic organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Mexico's economy will grow less than 2 percent this year, well below Lopez Obrador's goal of achieving average GDP growth of 4 percent.

"We accept the challenge and we are going to be watching from here. One of these times, we are going to win," the president said.

Last month, AMLO, as he is popularly known, said that credit rating agencies were punishing Mexico and state-owned companies, such as oil giant Pemex, for the "neoliberal policies" adopted by prior administrations.

The Mexican leader said the rating agencies had remained "quiet" while his predecessors implemented harmful economic policies.

"They are punishing the country for the neoliberal policies implemented over the past 36 years, which were a total failure. Especially in the past few years," AMLO said.

The comments came after Standard & Poor's downgraded its outlook for electric utility CFE from "stable" to "negative," the same rating it has for Pemex and Mexican sovereign debt.

S&P also revised the long-term outlook downward for 77 Mexican financial institutions, as well as for Coca-Cola Femsa and America Movil, after downgrading its sovereign debt outlook to "negative."

Fitch, another credit rating agency, also downgraded its outlook for Mexico.