Rising commodity prices fuel Brazil's record trade surplus in April

Workers load containers onto trucks from a cargo ship at a port in Jaragua do Sul, Santa Catarina state, Brazil, October 22, 2015. REUTERS/Paulo Prada

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil’s trade surplus rose to $6.969 billion last month, government data showed on Tuesday, a record for a month of April as prices for main exports such as soy, iron ore and oil rose.

Economists in a Reuters poll predicted a surplus of $7.03 billion, according to their median forecast, after a surplus of $4.862 billion in April 2016.

Brazil's hefty trade surplus has bolstered the country's currency despite a lingering political crisis and has fueled hopes of an imminent recovery after more than two years of deep recession. The real BRL= has gained 3 percent so far this year.

The government expects the trade surplus to set a new record this year, surpassing $55 billion, Trade Secretary Abrão Neto told journalists.

Exports totaled $17.686 billion and imports $10.717 billion. Exports rose 27.8 percent from a year earlier boosted by rising commodities prices, while imports grew 13.3 percent.

Average iron ore prices between January and April rose 127 percent from a year earlier, while oil gained 75 percent and poultry rose 19.3 percent, the trade ministry said.

Meat exports including beef, poultry and pork rose 0.2 percent from April 2016. Rising prices offset a 13-percent drop in volumes exported per day after a corruption scandal in the Brazilian meat industry led to temporary import bans last month.

Soybean exports rose 24 percent in April from a year ago, to $3.9 billion, amid a record harvest.

Brazil had a trade surplus of $21.387 billion between January and April, also a record for the period.

Reporting by Silvio Cascione; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Marguerita Choy