Brazil’s industrial output rises in May, back to pre-pandemic levels

Employees fill boxes with ethanol-based hand sanitizers in AGE do Brasil factory, hired by brewing Ambev to produce hand sanitizers to donate to public hospitals during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Vinhedo
FILE PHOTO: Employees fill boxes with ethanol-based hand sanitizers in AGE do Brasil factory, hired by brewing Ambev to produce hand sanitizers to donate to public hospitals during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Vinhedo, Brazil, March 25, 2020. REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli

July 2, 2021

By Jamie McGeever

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Industrial production in Brazil rose in May for the first month in four, figures showed on Friday, lifting output up to pre-pandemic levels although the pace of growth was slower than economists had expected and not particularly widespread.

Statistics agency IBGE said output rose 1.4% from the previous month, compared with the median estimate in a Reuters poll of economists for a 1.7% rise. April’s figure was revised to a 1.5% fall from a 1.3% decline.

These figures mean Brazilian industrial production is now back to where it was in February last year before the COVID-19 pandemic, IBGE said.

IBGE survey manager Andre Macedo said the effects of the second wave of the pandemic this year are still being felt across the sector.

“Much of this predominantly negative trend in recent months is directly linked to the resurgence of the pandemic at the beginning of 2021, which wreaked havoc on production chains,” he said.

IBGE said 15 of the 26 sectors surveyed saw a rise in production in May, and only two of the four major categories – capital goods and consumer goods – saw output rise.

Compared to May last year, however, overall production jumped 24.0% due to base effects, the second biggest year-on-year rise on record after April’s rebound, IBGE said.

January-May production was up 13.1% from a year earlier, and output in the 12 months through May was 4.9% higher than the same period a year earlier, IBGE said.

The central bank last week revised up its 2021 growth forecast for Brazilian industry to 6.6% from 6.4%. IBGE figures show, however, that the industrial sector is still 16.7% smaller than its peak in May 2011.

(Reporting by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)