* January $4.035 bln trade deficit worse than expected,
* Imports jump 14.6 pct from Jan/11, exports drop 1.1 pct
* Central bank data series started in 1959
By Alonso Soto
SAO PAULO, Feb 1 Brazil posted its worst monthly
trade deficit on record in January, trade ministry data showed
on Friday, a reminder of the global headwinds that continue to
face Latin America's largest economy.
Brazil posted a trade deficit of $4.035 billion
in January, the widest gap since 1959, the earliest data
available for trade results on the central bank's website.
The result came far below expectations for a $3.4 billion
deficit, according to the median forecast of 17 analysts
surveyed by Reuters.
A global slowdown has curbed demand and prices for key
Brazilian exports like soy and iron ore, further hurting local
exporters who already complain that an over-valued currency and
sky-high production costs make them less competitive than
Exports in January fell 1.1 percent versus 2012 while
imports rose 14.6 from the previous year.
Even though exports make up only about 10 percent of
Brazil's $2.5 trillion economy, it is considered a key sector by
President Dilma Rousseff's government.
Rousseff has offered billions of dollars in subsidized
lending to help exporters, mostly those who produce manufactured
goods. She has also raised trade barriers on dozens of imported
products to protect local industry.
Brazil is also backing one of its own, ambassador Roberto
Azevedo, to head the World Trade Organization in a bid to
increase its clout in the struggling trade club.
Dwindling profits for exporters could hit business
confidence at a time when the Brazilian economy is struggling to
recover after two years of below-trend growth.
In a sign that the recovery remain fragile, industrial
output failed to grow in December from November with a sharp
drop in capital goods production suggesting lackluster levels of