Brazil services activity grows 0.9% in May, higher than expected

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BRASILIA – Services activity in Brazil resumed growth in May and at a faster-than-expected pace, benefiting from the normalization of activities after the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The services sector rose 0.9% in May from the previous month, seasonally adjusted data by statistics agency IBGE showed, while economists polled by Reuters had expected a 0.2% gain.

That marked the third positive result for the sector in the last four months. In April, there was a decrease of 0.1%.

Activity in the sector is now 8.4% above the level of February 2020, before the pandemic, IBGE said.

Services sector output in May was up 9.2% from the same month last year, more than the median forecast for an 8.5% increase.

Services account for about 70% of all activity in Brazil’s economy. Despite recent stronger results, it is still 2.8% lower than its peak in November 2014.

(Reporting by Marcela Ayres; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Bernadette Baum)