(Adds details on record drop)
BRASILIA, March 29 Services activity in Brazil
fell in January at the fastest pace on record, government data
showed on Wednesday, dampening expectations of an imminent end
to the country's deep recession.
Services activity shrank 2.2 percent from December after
seasonal adjustments, down from an increase of 0.7 percent in
the previous month. Forecasts were for a 0.5 percent drop in a
Reuters poll of economists.
Services activity, which accounts for about 60 percent of
Brazil's economy, declined 7.3 percent in January from the same
month last year, statistics agency IBGE said.
The sharp drop in services such as hotels, transportation
and media contrasted with promising signs from manufacturers and
farmers, which had fueled hopes of an economic recovery soon.
Industrial output grew in January on an annual basis for the
first time in nearly 3 years.
Economists and the government expect Brazil's economy to
grow about 0.5 percent this year after two years of sharp
contraction. The recession has sent unemployment to record highs
and cost Brazil its investment-grade debt rating.
(Reporting by Silvio Cascione and Bruno Federowski; Editing by