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By Jamie McGeever
BRASILIA, June 4 (Reuters) - Industrial production in Brazil rose 0.3% in April from March, government statistics agency IBGE said on Tuesday, less than half the rate expected and another sign that the economy is struggling to gain momentum.
Having contracted in the first quarter for the first time since 2016, economists fear the economy’s malaise is deep and widespread enough to tip it back into recession if activity doesn’t pick up sufficiently in the second quarter.
The latest industrial production figures suggest those recession fears may be justified. Production in April was down 3.9% from a year ago, a far steeper decline than the 2.8% median forecast in a Reuters poll of economists.
Industrial production in the first four months of the year fell 2.7% from the January-April period last year, and was down 1.1% in the 12 months to April, IBGE said.
Strikingly, Brazil’s industrial output is now down 17.3% from the peak in May 2011, IBGE said.
The main contributors to the month-on-month increase in April were a 7.1% increase in vehicles, trucks and parts production, an 8.3% rise in machinery and equipment output and a 5.2% increase in other chemicals output.
In terms of broad economic categories, output of consumer durables production rose 3.4% from March, capital goods rose 2.9% and semi- and non-durable consumer goods was up 2.6%, IBGE said.
The year-on-year figures were heavily influenced by the Brumadinho tailings dam disaster in January, IBGE said, noting a 24% plunge in mining production compared to April last year. (Reporting by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Bernadette Baum)