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FILE PHOTO: Mexican presidential pre-candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) greets supporters during a pre-campaign rally in Queretaro, Mexico February 9, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Romero/File Photo

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has seen his lead ahead of July's presidential election increase, while the ruling party's contender has slipped slightly, according to an opinion poll published in a local newspaper on Wednesday.

The former Mexico City mayor, who has already run twice for presidency, leads the pack of hopefuls with 27.1 percent in February, up 3.5 percentage points from January, according to the pollster Mitofsky's survey published in El Economista newspaper.

Former finance minister Jose Antonio Meade, of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), came in third with 18.0 percent, down from 18.2 percent.

Ricardo Anaya, former leader of the centre-right National Action Party (PAN), ranked second with 22.3 percent, up from 20.4 percent in the prior survey, the poll said. Anaya resigned in December to pursue the presidency in an alliance with the centre-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).

(Reporting by Anthony Esposito)

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Reuters