(Adds historical data on autos, retail sales data)
MEXICO CITY, March 27 (Reuters) - Mexican factory exports rebounded in February by the most in over four years as auto shipments surged, pointing to a strengthening economic recovery in Latin America’s No. 2 economy.
Non-oil manufactured exports rose 5.07 percent in February compared with January, the national statistics agency said on Thursday, its fastest pace since October 2009, signaling strengthening demand from the United States for local goods.
Most of Mexico’s exports are manufactured goods, and nearly 80 percent of them are sent to the United States, which saw its factories wobble early this year due to bad weather.
Mexico’s economy slowed sharply in the fourth quarter as industry ground to a halt and the pace of services growth dropped, dragging annual growth to a four-year low and clouding hopes of a robust recovery this year.
Auto exports rose a dramatic 12.21 percent when adjusted for seasonal swings last month, its fastest pace since July, 2011.
Non-oil consumer imports rose 1.04 percent in February after contracting in the first month of the year, raising hopes that Mexican shoppers are opening their purses again.
But data this month showed Mexican retail sales slipped in January for a second consecutive month, pointing to tepid consumer demand.
Mexico posted a $431 million trade surplus in February when adjusted for seasonal swings, the national statistics agency said on Thursday.
In non-seasonally adjusted terms, Mexico posted a trade surplus of $976 million. (Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Andrew Hay)