Brazil manufacturing PMI in June hits four-month high -IHS Markit

BRASILIA, July 1 (Reuters) - Growth in Brazil's manufacturing sector accelerated in June to its fastest rate in four months, a survey of purchasing managers' activity showed on Thursday, led by the strongest growth this year in employment and export orders.

The average pace of growth in the second quarter, however, was slower than the prior three-month period, a consequence of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Brazilian businesses banked on an end to the current difficulties and a brighter second half of the year, IHS Markit's purchasing managers index (PMI) report showed.

The headline PMI rose to 56.4 in June from 53.7 in May, IHS Markit said, the highest since February. A reading above 50.0 marks expansion, while a reading below signifies contraction. The series was launched in 2006.

"Despite the ongoing battle against another wave of COVID-19 cases, companies saw their order books expand substantially from last month ... (and) factories worked on rebuilding their stocks to fulfill rising demand," said Polyanna de Lima, economics associate director at IHS Markit.

"The resilience of the manufacturing industry fed through to the labor market as companies were confident in the rebound and took on additional workers. Employment increased at the quickest pace in seven months as business optimism improved," she said.

The economy's resilience to the pandemic has prompted upward revisions to this year's growth outlook, and the latest median forecast in a weekly central bank survey of economists is 5.1%.

The employment index rose to the highest since November, and the new export orders index rose to the highest since December, IHS Markit said.

Reporting by Jamie McGeever Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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Jamie McGeever has been a financial journalist since 1998, reporting from Brazil, Spain, New York, London, and now back in the U.S. again. Focus on economics, central banks, policymakers, and global markets - especially FX and fixed income. Follow me on Twitter: @ReutersJamie