Brazil Posted Record $4 Billion Trade Deficit in January

Brazil posted a record trade deficit in January, as monthly figures surged on the inclusion of oil imports made at the end of last year.

The trade deficit was $4 billion last month, compared with a $2.25 billion surplus in December, the Trade Ministry said in a report published today on its website. Economists forecast a $3.4 billion deficit, according to the median forecast of 17 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

Tax cuts and record-low interest rates implemented by President Dilma Rousseff’s administration have spurred domestic demand in the world’s second-largest emerging market economy. Brazil’s real is the third-best performer in 2013 among major currencies, encouraging imports by making goods produced abroad cheaper. Oil imports from December that weren’t counted until this month gave the impression of a wider deficit, said Jose Augusto de Castro, president of Brazil’s foreign trade association, known as AEB.

“This delay made the volume of oil imports to increase by 53 percent compared to last January,” said Castro in a telephone interview from Rio de Janeiro. “Still, what we saw was a larger registry of oil imports, not necessarily higher imports.”

Exports fell to $16 billion from $19.7 billion in December, lower than the median forecast of $16.9 billion in a Bloomberg survey of 10 analysts. Imports rose to $20 billion from $17.5 billion.

Brazil’s economy will expand 3 percent to 4 percent this year, Finance Minister Guido Mantega said on Jan. 30. Growth was expected to have reached 1 percent last year, according to central bank estimates.

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