Brazil’s retail sales top expectations with 1% growth in March

BRASILIA, May 10 (Reuters) – Retail sales in Brazil rose more than expected in March, the third straight monthly gain, despite double-digit inflation in Latin America’s largest economy, official figures showed on Tuesday.

According to government statistics agency IBGE, sales grew 1% in March from February, more than the 0.4% increase forecast in a Reuters poll of economists.

Six of the eight activities surveyed recorded growth, with computer and communication office equipment and supplies gaining 13.9%.

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Sales were up 4% from the same month a year earlier, also higher than the 2.1% raise predicted by economists.

That resulted in a 1.3% increase in the first quarter from the same period last year. The sector also posted 1.9% growth from the previous quarter, the agency said.

Financial conditions in Brazil have tightened as the country’s central bank aggressively raises interest rates to curb inflation that reached 12% in mid-April.

Research manager Cristiano Santos said the quarterly performance was “strong,” although not in all activities.

Retail sales are now 2.6% above the pre-pandemic level of February 2020. But considering the expanded retail sector, which includes cars and building materials, six sectors are below pre-pandemic levels, while four are above, Santos said.

On that wider basis, retail sales rose 0.7% in March from February.

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Reporting by Marcela Ayres; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Paul Simao

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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