Brazil's industrial output falls more than expected in April

BY Reuters | ECONOMIC | 06/02/23 08:19 AM EDT

SAO PAULO, June 2 (Reuters) - Industrial production in Brazil fell by more than expected in April from March, data from government statistics agency IBGE showed on Friday, underscoring the difficulties faced by the sector against a backdrop of high borrowing costs.

Output slipped 0.6% in the period, more than the 0.2% drop forecast by economists in a Reuters poll, a reading that keeps the sector below pre-pandemic levels and might add further pressure on the central bank to start cutting interest rates.

Production fell in three of the first four months of 2023, IBGE stressed, with April the worst of them as 16 of the 25 areas surveyed posted negative figures.

"We haven't seen such a wide spread of negative results since October 2022," research manager Andre Macedo said, noting the food industry posed the largest drag in April as it dropped for the fourth month in a row.

Data on Thursday had already showed industrial activity as one of the lowlights of Brazil's higher-than-expected economic growth in the first quarter, with its 0.1% contraction offset by a surge in agricultural output.

Industry group FIESP blamed the weak results on tight monetary conditions, with Brazil's benchmark interest rate at a six-year high of 13.75% since September 2022, projecting the sector to continue to struggle amid difficulties in obtaining credit.

When compared with the previous year, according to IBGE, output in April slipped 2.7%, also missing market consensus of a 1.1% fall.

"Industry is under severe stress" in Brazil, said Pantheon Macroeconomics' chief economist for Latin America, Andres Abadia, noting the latest figures add "to the case for rate cuts, soon". (Reporting by Gabriel Araujo and Camila Moreira Editing by Steven Grattan and Frances Kerry)

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