UPDATE 1-Brazil current account deficit nearly doubles in January

martes 23 de febrero de 2016 10:06 GYT

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BRASILIA Feb 23 (Reuters) - Brazil posted a current account deficit of $4.817 billion in January, widening from a shortfall of $2.460 billion in December, central bank data showed on Tuesday.

The country was expected to post a current account deficit of $5.9 billion, according to the median forecast in a Reuters poll of 18 analysts.

In the 12 months through January, the deficit was equivalent to 2.94 percent of Brazil's gross domestic product, down from 3.32 percent of GDP the previous month. Brazil attracted $5.455 billion in foreign direct investment last month, the central bank said.

A sharp depreciation of the Brazilian real, which lost about 30 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar last year, has made Brazilian exports cheaper for consumers abroad.

On the other hand, the weaker real, coupled with the country's worst recession in decades, has curbed demand for imports in the once-booming economy.

To reap the benefits of a weaker real and ease the pain of the recession President Dilma Rousseff has shifted policy and is opening one of the Western Hemisphere's most closed economies.

The government is expecting a trade surplus of $35 billion, nearly double the surplus registered in 2015.

Flows of foreign investment have remained strong despite the recession, but many economists say some of that money is used by the subsidiary of foreign companies to take advantage of high interest rates in local debt. (Reporting by Alonso Soto and Marcela Ayres Editing by W Simon)