UPDATE 1-Brazil retail sales drop for second month in August
(Adds data) BRASILIA, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Retail sales in Brazil fell for a second straight month in August even as supermarket sales firmed, government data showed on Tuesday, in another sign of weakness as the economy struggles to emerge from recession. Retail sales volumes excluding cars and building materials fell 0.6 percent in August from July after seasonal adjustments , in line with forecasts in a Reuters poll, statistics agency IBGE said. Sales fell 5.5 percent from the year-earlier period , down from a decline of 5.3 percent in July and compared with expectations for a 5.0 percent drop. Sales dropped in six of the eight sectors covered by IBGE, with the biggest declines in office equipment, pharmaceuticals, furniture and books. However, supermarket and food sales, which account for the biggest slice of consumer spending, rose 0.8 percent from July, as food prices started to ease from a surprise increase earlier this year. High unemployment and interest rates have hurt retailers even as prospects of an economic recovery lifted consumer confidence off record lows. A broader retail measure including automobile and building materials sales, which are more volatile, dropped 2.0 percent in August from July and 7.7 percent from August 2015. (Reporting by Silvio Cascione Editing by W Simon)
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