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Brazil's industrial output up 7% in May, second-biggest rise on record

By Jamie McGeever

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Industrial production in Brazil rose 7% in May, official figures showed on Thursday, the second-biggest monthly increase ever as activity started to pick up following two months of stricter lockdowns to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

While optimists will see the data as further proof the worst of the economic crisis is over and a rebound underway, only a small part of output lost in March and April has been recovered and the figures were burnished by a record collapse the month before.

The data chimes with indicators for June that suggest Brazilian industry is slowly picking itself up off the floor.

Industrial confidence posted its biggest ever rise, while a closely watched manufacturing purchasing managers index showed the first expansion in four months.

"The good news is that it looks like June will be quite a lot better," said William Jackson at Capital Economics. "Even so, these data suggest that Brazil's economy is on course for a double digit fall in GDP in Q2 and that its recovery is weaker than in many other emerging markets."

Industrial production rose 7.0% in May from April, the second-biggest increase since statistic agency IBGE's series began in 2002.

Production was down 21.9% on the year.

The median estimates in a Reuters poll of economists projected a monthly rise of 6.7% and an annual decline of 23.1%.

Consumer durable goods production rose 92.5% from April and capital goods rose 28.7%, IBGE said.

Among the 26 sectors surveyed, 20 registered an increase in production, IBGE said, with a 244% surge in auto and auto parts output, and a 16.2% jump in oil and biofuels production among the biggest drivers of a broader rebound.

The bigger picture, however, is more mixed. Industrial production is down 11.2% so far this year, and down 34% from the peak in May 2011, IBGE said.

(Graphic: Brazil industrial production,

(Reporting by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Bernadette Baum)

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