UPDATE 1-Brazil's industry takes small step forward in January

miércoles 4 de marzo de 2015 08:28 GYT

(Adds table, details on truck production)
    RIO DE JANEIRO, March 4 (Reuters) - Industrial output in
Brazil grew more than expected in January as truck factories
resumed operations at idle production lines, reversing a small
part of last year's sharp downturn.
    Output from Brazilian factories and mines rose a
seasonally adjusted 2.0 percent from December, above market
expectations for an increase of 1.5 percent, statistics agency
IBGE said on Wednesday.
    Capital goods production jumped 9.1 percent from December,
mostly due to higher truck production after workers returned
from vacations at many plants, IBGE said.
    Industrial output had dropped 4.3 percent in the last two
months of last year, and production levels are still nearly 9
percent below 2013's peak, the institute added, highlighting the
chronic weakness of Brazil's manufacturing sector after years of
stiff competition from abroad and rising labor costs. 
    Most economists say the steady decline of Brazilian industry
over the past three years is not about to reverse course in the
short term as a drop in commodities prices and greater fiscal
tightening weighs on the nation's economy, which some analysts
expect will fall into recession this year.
    Hard-to-fix structural problems, such as poor logistics and
infrastructure, and high tax costs are widely cited as the
factors taming local manufacturing. Automakers such as
Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz and General
Motors have faced strikes since last year as they tried
to reduce costs by cutting payrolls. 
    Production rose in 13 of 24 industrial segments on a monthly
basis, with food processing and machinery contributing the most
to the rise.
    January industrial production fell 5.2 percent from a year
earlier, IBGE said.
 (Percent change)                  Jan/Dec    Jan'15/Jan'14
 Capital goods                     9.1        -16.4
 Intermediate goods                0.7        -2.4
 Consumer goods                    -1.1       -7.4
     Durable consumer goods        -1.4       -13.9
     Semi-durable and non-durable  -0.3       -5.3
 consumer goods                               
 Industrial output                 2.0        -5.2
 (Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier and Pedro Fonseca; Writing by
Silvio Cascione Editing by W Simon)