August 10, 2018 / 1:21 PM / a month ago

Brazil June retail sales unexpectedly fall, but at a slower pace

BRASILIA, Aug 10 (Reuters) - Retail sales in Brazil unexpectedly contracted in June, though at a slower pace than in the previous month, highlighting the lingering effect of a nationwide truckers’ strike the month before.

Sales fell 0.3 percent from the month before, government statistics agency IBGE said on Friday, compared to the median estimate in a Reuters poll of economists of a 0.2 percent increase.

Truckers protesting high diesel prices blocked major highways in the final weeks of May, stemming flows of inputs for key industries and dragging down economic indicators across the board.

Yet the decline in June was smaller than the 0.6 percent drop seen in May, suggesting retailers in Latin America’s largest economy were not among the most affected by the strike.

In fact, five of the eight sectors tracked by IBGE saw higher sales in the month. Supermarkets, food, beverage and tobacco sales, as well as fuels, accounted for the bulk of the decline, according to a statement.

Retail sales rose 1.5 percent in June from the year before, below a 2.4 percent consensus estimate, IBGE said.

The strike triggered a round of downgrades to 2018 economic growth forecasts among private- and public-sector economists and drove a spike in inflation, heightening uncertainty over the economic outlook.

Earlier this week, the central bank said it preferred not to provide hints over the next steps for monetary policy even as the outlook for inflation looked “comfortable.” (Reporting by Bruno Federowski Editing by Susan Thomas)

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