UPDATE 3-Brazil auto output slows; GM offers buyout
* GM offering voluntary buyouts at Brazilian factory * Vehicle output wanes to slowest since Feb on high stocks * Factories respond to weak demand with furloughs, layoffs SAO PAULO, June 6 (Reuters) - General Motors Co said on Wednesday it offered a buyout plan for workers at a Brazilian factory after automakers in the country scaled back output in May to the slowest in three months, idling factory lines to draw down massive inventories. GM said it was offering voluntary buyouts at its factory in Sao Jose dos Campos as a result of intense competition in the Brazilian market, as well as rising labor and raw materials costs, according to a statement by the company. The company added that the buyouts were a structural adjustment to maintain its current production program. A metalworkers' union at the factory said GM was offering a buyout through June 15 without giving a target for staff cuts. The cutbacks come as carmakers slow production and domestic dealerships work to sell off inventories that are near their highest since November 2008. Brazil's car market is slipping from a year ago as Brazilians strain under record household debts and banks reject more auto loans in response to greater defaults. Production averaged about 12,800 vehicles for each of the 22 working days in May, down from 14,000 per day in March and 13,000 in April, according to Thomson Reuters calculations based on monthly data reported by national automakers association Anfavea on Wednesday. February output averaged 11,500 per day. Carmakers in Brazil produced about 280,800 new vehicles last month, Anfavea said, up 7.6 percent from April due to a couple of extra business days in the month. Brazil's auto output in May fell 7.7 percent from the same month a year earlier and the industry's accumulated production in the first five months of the year remains about 10 percent below the same period of 2011. Carmakers have adjusted with daily furloughs to slow the accumulation of stocks and the GM buyout follows economists' warnings that layoffs may be around the corner after years of rising wages and slipping productivity. Unions at a Mercedes-Benz truck factory said last week that the company will cut 1,500 workers as a part of layoffs confirmed by German group Daimler AG. Anfavea confirmed that vehicle sales rose 11.5 percent in May from April due to the longer month, although average daily sales fell from a year earlier for the fourth straight month. Brazil is a key market for the world's biggest automakers, including Italy's Fiat SpA, Germany's Volkswagen AG and U.S.-based GM and Ford Motor Co.
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