March 13, 2018 / 12:28 PM / 10 months ago

UPDATE 1-Brazilian retail sales up more than expected in January

BRASILIA, March 13 (Reuters) - Brazil’s retail sector expanded at a faster-than-expected pace in January, suggesting a solid start to the year following lackluster economic growth in the fourth quarter.

Retail sales rose 0.9 percent from December, government statistics agency IBGE said on Tuesday, the fastest pace of growth since June and surpassing the 0.6 percent median forecast in a Reuters poll of economists.

Five of the eight categories tracked by IBGE saw higher sales in the month, painting a picture of widespread momentum that is likely to support Brazil’s economic recovery.

Sales advanced 3.2 percent from the year before, the tenth straight increase, compared to a consensus estimate for a 2.5 percent rise.

Record-low interest rates and slow inflation have propped up consumer spending over the last year, adding fuel to Latin America’s largest economy.

Still, double-digit unemployment rates and idle capacity among companies have kept a lid on corporate investments, leading to a gradual economic recovery. (Reporting by Bruno Federowski Editing by Paul Simao)

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