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Brazil retail sales up in October, but pace of growth almost grinds to a halt

By Jamie McGeever

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian retail sales rose in October for the sixth month in a row, official figures on Wednesday showed, although the pace of growth slowed to just 0.1%, suggesting the consumer started the fourth quarter on a cautious footing.

That was below the 0.3% median increase forecast in a Reuters poll of economists, and the lowest month-on-month rise since May, figures from government statistics agency IBGE showed.

The 4.2% annual rate of retail sales growth was higher than the 3.8% forecast in a Reuters poll and the second highest rate this year after July's 4.3% rise.

Recent data shows that the Brazilian economy is starting to pick up, as historically low interest rates and inflation fuel an upswing in domestic demand that government officials hope will accelerate further into next year.

Wednesday's retail sales figures showed that six out of the eight sectors covered by IBGE registered growth from the month before.

Sales of office, computer and communication equipment rose 5.3%, fuel and oil rose 1.7%, pharmaceutical, medical and cosmetic goods rose 1.2%, and furniture and household appliances rose 0.9%, IBGE said.

The biggest drag on overall sales was a 0.1% decline in sales across hypermarkets, supermarkets, food & drink and tobacco.

Accumulated retail sales in the first 10 months of the year rose 1.6%, and in the 12 months to October they were up 1.8%, IBGE said.

(Reporting by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Stevbe Orlofsky)

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