UPDATE 1-Brazil industry creeps forward in Feb; Jan rise revised higher
(Add details from IBGE report, context) SAO PAULO, April 2 (Reuters) - Brazilian industrial output advanced slightly in February, though at a much slower pace than in the previous month, suggesting a rebound in the country's battered industrial sector remains tenuous. Industrial production in Brazil rose 0.4 percent in February from January, government statistics agency IBGE said on Wednesday, missing expectations for a 0.5 percent rise in a Reuters survey of 24 analysts. Forecasts ranged from no increase to a rise of 2.2 percent. February's advance came one month after Brazilian industry posted a 3.8 percent gain, revised up on Wednesday from 2.9 percent previously. Growth in local manufacturing has come in starts and stops, as December's 3.7 percent drop from November represented the steepest monthly decline since December 2008. Manufacturers have consistently been the weakest link in Brazil's economy as they struggle with competition from abroad, high tax and labor costs, and poor infrastructure. Industrial production is expected to grow just 1.38 percent in 2014, less than the 1.69 percent expansion forecast for Brazil's economy as a whole, according to a weekly central bank poll of about 100 economists. Economists are particularly worried about the recent increase in unwanted inventories brought about by January's rise from December. Capital goods production rose just 0.1 percent in February from January, slowing sharply from a 10 percent gain in January from December. Brazil's manufacturing activity continued to expand in March, though at a meager pace as growth in new orders cooled, a private survey showed on Tuesday. Of the 27 industrial sectors surveyed by IBGE, 19 expanded in February from January, including medical equipment and foods. Automobile production rose for the second straight month, climbing 7.0 percent from January. In broader industrial categories, consumer goods rose 0.5 percent from January while intermediate goods advanced 0.8 percent. February's industrial production rose 5 percent from a year earlier, while the median estimate in the Reuters survey pointed to a 4.9 percent increase. Estimates ranged from a 4.4 percent decline to an 8 percent expansion. (For details on the IBGE industrial output figures see: r.reuters.com/kep28v) (pct change) Feb/Jan Feb '14/Feb '13 Capital goods 0.1 12.4 Intermediate goods 0.8 1.1 Consumer goods 0.5 7.4 Durable consumer goods 3.3 20.9 Semi-durable and -0.1 3.6 non-durable consumer goods Industrial output 0.4 5.0 (Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier; Writing by Asher Levine; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)
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