(Adds details on TV, car sales, market reaction)
By Silvio Cascione
BRASILIA, July 16 (Reuters) - May retail sales in Brazil rose at the fastest pace in six months as the soccer World Cup helped to boost sales of television sets, government data showed on Wednesday.
Retail sales volumes in Brazil rose 0.5 percent in May from April, the strongest increase since November 2013, statistics agency IBGE said.
Retail sales were expected to drop by 0.1 percent in May after falling for three consecutive months, according to the median estimate of 21 economists.
The unexpected improvement was a welcome development for President Dilma Rousseff, who has watched the economy slow to a near-halt just as she campaigns for re-election.
Higher interest rates and stubborn inflation have weighed as consumer confidence dwindled, depriving the Brazilian economy of one of its few reliable sources of growth.
Sales of furniture and home appliances jumped 1.8 percent from April as Brazilians snapped up new TV sets to watch the World Cup tournament. Mother’s Day, which is held in every second Sunday of May in Brazil, also pushed up sales, IBGE said.
Eight out of 10 retail sectors surveyed saw higher sales in the month. Still, a broader measure of retail sales, including automobiles and building material, dropped 0.3 percent from April due to a steep decline in car sales.
Yields on interest rate futures were little changed after the data was released as traders stuck to bets that Brazil’s central bank will keep its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 11 percent through the rest of the year. The bank’s monetary policy committee meets later Wednesday.
May’s retail sales rose 4.8 percent from the year-earlier period, the IBGE added. (Additional reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier and Felipe Pontes; Editing by W Simon and J Benkoe)