(Adds quarterly data, reference to retail and industry,
By Silvio Cascione
BRASILIA May 16 Economic activity in Brazil
dropped slightly in March on weaker industrial output and retail
sales, central bank data showed on Friday, capping a frustrating
first quarter for Latin America's largest economy.
The Brazilian central bank's IBC-Br economic activity index
dropped 0.11 percent in March from February in
seasonally adjusted terms, the bank said on Friday, in line with
expectations in a Reuters poll.
The index, a rough proxy for gross domestic product, dropped
a non-seasonally adjusted 0.09 percent over the same month a
year ago. It pointed to 0.3 percent growth in the first quarter
from the end of last year.
March's surprise drop in retail sales dragged
activity down as rising inflation and tighter credit ate into
consumers' pockets. Industrial output also fell in
that month as factories sought to cut back on unwanted
Brazil's economy has struggled with weak growth and high
inflation since 2011 despite countless attempts by the
government of President Dilma Rousseff to boost activity through
stimulus measures. The country's economy grew just 2.3 percent
last year and is expected to slow further in 2014, according to
The IBC-Br index, a gauge of activity in the farming,
industrial and services sectors, has proven to be an imperfect
barometer of official GDP data compiled by statistics agency
IBGE, which provides a broader reading of economic activity.
(Reporting by Silvio Cascione Editing by W Simon and Chizu