BRASILIA, April 3 (Reuters) - Growth in Brazilian economic activity picked up to its strongest in over a year in March, driven by solid increases in domestic new orders across both the manufacturing and services sectors, IHS Markit Insight said on Wednesday.
The closely-watched purchasing managers indices (PMIs) for March, often seen as a leading indicator of overall economic growth, showed the sixth straight month of service sector growth and ninth consecutive month of rising manufacturing activity.
The figures suggest the Brazilian economy may finally be beginning to move up a gear after struggling to fully recover from the 2015-16 recession and virtually stagnating for months.
“Survey data showed a remarkable upswing in inflows of new work at Brazilian service providers, which suggests that the economy may be heating up,” said Pollyanna De Lima, Principal Economist at IHS Markit.
“Buoyed by this favorable demand environment, service sector activity rose at the joint-quickest pace in over six years during March, rounding off the strongest quarter since Q1 2013,” she said.
The Brazilian services PMI rose to 52.7 in March from February, the highest since February last year, while the composite PMI index rose to 53.1 from 52.6, also the highest in 13 months. Services account for around 70 percent of Brazil’s economy.
The manufacturing PMI released on Monday showed a slight dip to 52.8 from 53.4, but that still indicates growing activity as PMI readings above 50.0 denote expansion and below 50.0 signal contraction.
The black mark on the March PMIs, however, was employment. A small decline in service sector jobs was offset by growth in the manufacturing industry, but overall private sector employment was broadly stagnant in March, IHS Markit said.
“Lowering the unemployment rate from 12.4 percent seems to be the key piece of the jigsaw for a sustainable economic recovery in the months to come,” De Lima said. (Reporting by Jamie McGeever Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)