June 12, 2019 / 12:52 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Brazil April retail sales surprisingly fall, hinting at weak 2nd-qtr growth

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By Jamie McGeever

BRASILIA, June 12 (Reuters) - Retail sales in Brazil unexpectedly fell in April, government statistics agency IBGE said on Wednesday, another indication that the economy’s broad-based weakness in the first quarter of the year is spilling over into the second.

Seasonally adjusted sales volumes fell 0.6% from March, much weaker than the unchanged level suggested by the median estimate in a Reuters poll of economists, and the biggest monthly fall this year.

On an annual basis, sales grew 1.7% from last April, weaker than the 2.85% increase expected in the Reuters poll. Sales had been expected to rebound more strongly in April after slumping 4.4% in March, the biggest annual decline in over two years.

Sales in five of the eight retail sectors tracked by IBGE fell in April from March: Supermarkets, food & drink and tobacco (-1.8%); textiles, clothing and footwear (-5.5%); pharmaceutical, medical and cosmetics goods (-0.7% ); other personal and domestic items (-0.4%); and office, IT and communication supplies (-8.0%).

Increases in sales occurred in three sectors: Furniture and household appliances (+1.7%); fuels and oil (+0.3%); and books, newspapers, magazines and stationery (+4.3%), IBGE said.

April’s figures bring the accumulated increase over the first four months of the year to 0.6%, and over the last 12 months to +1.4%, compared with the +1.3% rise in the 12 months to March, IBGE said.

Brazil’s economy shrank by 0.2% in the first quarter, its first contraction in over two years. Most second quarter economic indicators released so far, including purchasing managers indexes, consumer confidence, industrial production and now retail sales, have been weaker than expected. (Reporting by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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