* IBC-Br index up 1.29 percent, above forecasts
* Strongest monthly rise since June 2008
* December revised down to a fall of 0.45 percent
BRASILIA, March 15 Brazil's economic activity
rose strongly in January, central bank data showed on Friday,
suggesting the still moderate recovery of Latin America's
largest economy is gaining momentum after a surprisingly weak
performance in December.
The central bank's IBC-Br economic activity index
rose 1.29 percent in January from December in
seasonally adjusted terms, rebounding from a decline of 0.45
percent in December. The December figure was revised downwards
from a previous increase of 0.26 percent, halting a string of
three consecutive monthly rises that started in October.
The January jump was well above the 0.90 percent median
estimate of 17 analysts surveyed by Reuters. It was also the
strongest monthly rise since June 2008.
President Dilma Rousseff's government has struggled to
support a sluggish economy after a slew of stimulus measures
that include tax breaks, subsidized lending and record low
interest rates. The Brazilian economy grew 0.9 percent in 2012,
slowing from 2.7 percent in 2011 and 7.5 percent the previous
The IBC-Br report for January, as well as other economic
data for that month, suggest the economy is starting to respond
to that stimulus.
For example, retail sales expanded a moderate 0.6 percent
in January, bouncing back from a decline of 0.4 percent in
December, government data showed on Thursday. Consumer demand
has been the main motor of the Brazilian economy as investment
The IBC-Br index, a gauge of activity in the farming,
manufacturing and services sectors, rose a non-seasonally
adjusted 3.84 percent over the same month a year ago.