UPDATE 3-Brazil economy stuck in doldrums as Rousseff seeks re-election
(Adds finance minister, market reaction)
By Brian Winter and Silvio Cascione
SAO PAULO/BRASILIA May 30 (Reuters) - Brazil's economy barely grew in the first quarter as investment plunged, reflecting a broad malaise that has stirred recent labor unrest and street protests as President Dilma Rousseff seeks a second term.
Data released by the government on Friday was for the most part like a broken record of the last three years in Brazil: Shrinking factory output, falling investment and flat consumer spending, while a good performance by agriculture and heavy government spending ahead of the October election tilted the overall balance toward modest growth.
Gross domestic product grew 0.2 percent from January to March compared to the previous quarter, statistics agency IBGE said. That was a slower rate than 0.4 percent growth in the fourth quarter, a number that was revised downward.
"I couldn't find anything positive at all in the (data)," said Bruno Rovai, an economist at Barclays.
He and other economists said falling confidence among investors and consumers, plus rising inventories, likely spelled continued weak activity through 2014 and probably beyond.
Brazil's stock market fell 1.5 percent to a one-month low as pessimism spread to local companies.
After a long commodities-fueled boom last decade, Brazil's economy has fallen from grace on Wall Street and averaged just 2 percent annual growth under Rousseff's left-leaning policies. Continuación...