UPDATE 1-Brazil current account gap widens, 2014 forecast up

lunes 24 de marzo de 2014 10:23 GYT

(Recast, adds details and context)

BRASILIA, March 24 (Reuters) - Brazil's current account deficit widened to a record for the month of February, forcing the central bank to raise its annual forecast to a gap of $80 billion.

The country had a current account deficit of $7.445 billion in February, above $6.576 billion, the previous record for that month recorded last year, central bank data showed on Monday.

The bank revised its annual current account forecast to a deficit of $80 billion from $78 billion previously on expectations of a smaller trade surplus in 2014. The bank's foreign direct investment forecast was kept at $63 billion.

The commodities' powerhouse has seen its trade balance dwindle in the last two years as the value of its exports drop while Brazilian continue to spend heavily on imports ranging from shoes to electronics and suits.

In 2013, Brazil's current account deficit surged to $81.374 billion, the biggest gap since at least 2001. In 2012, the country had an external gap of $54.249 billion.

The country had been expected to post a deficit of $8 billion in February, according to the median forecast of 12 analysts in a Reuters poll. Brazil's current account deficit in January was $11.6 billion.

In the 12 months through February, the country's current account deficit was equivalent to 3.69 percent of GDP, up from 2.82 percent of GDP during the same period last year.

Foreign direct investment in Latin America's largest economy was $4.132 billion in February, above market expectations of $3.8 billion. (Reporting by Alonso Soto and Luciana Otoni; Editing by James Dalgleish and Andrea Ricci)