Brazil's Services Activity Beats Forecasts with 1.7% Rise in March

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Services activity in Brazil rose more than expected in March and at a record pace for the month, official figures showed on Thursday, marking a strong recovery from the severe downturn caused by the COVID pandemic, Reuters reported. Services activity increased 1.7% in March from February, more than double the 0.7% growth expected by economists according to a Reuters poll, reaching its highest level since May 2015, the government statistics agency IBGE reported. That put the sector 7.2% above the level of February 2020, before the onset of the pandemic. All five activities surveyed in the sector expanded, with the biggest increases seen in transport at +2.7% and information and communication services at +1.7%, IBGE said. Services activity gained 11.4% from March 2021, also above the 8.5% increase forecast in the Reuters poll. In the first quarter, it grew 9.4% over the same period last year, rising 1.8% over the previous quarter. Research manager Rodrigo Lobo said the weak comparison base pushed the sector higher, noting that Brazil in March 2021 faced a second wave of COVID-19 that imposed strict restrictions on mobility. Read more.