(Adds year-on-year data, background on retail sales)
BRASILIA, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Brazil's economy got a slight but unexpected boost in November as early holiday discounts helped lift retail sales to provide a small relief in the long recession.
Economic activity grew 0.20 percent in November from October after a drop of 0.15 percent the previous month, according to the central bank's IBC-Br index on Friday.
The median forecast of economists in a Reuters poll was for a decline of 0.10 percent.
The index measures activity in agriculture, industry and services and is considered as a proxy for official gross domestic product data.
Brazil's economy is expected to have shrunk more than 3 percent in 2016 for the second year in a row, part of the country's deepest recession ever recorded.
A surprise increase in retail sales in November helped boost the index. Economists said, however, that sales probably fell in December as consumers were only anticipating their holiday shopping because of Black Friday discounts.
November's small rise in economic activity was nonetheless the strongest since June. Compared with November 2015, activity fell 2.02 percent, the central bank said. (Reporting by Silvio Cascione; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)