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Brazil's economy barely avoided recession last year, rising 0.1 per cent

RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil’s economy grew just 0.1 per cent last year, barely keeping the country out of a recession, the government’s statistics bureau said Friday.

It was the worst result since 2009 and bad news for President Dilma Rousseff, whose popularity has plummeted along with Brazil’s economic performance.

To blame for last year’s poor performance was a drop in investments, which fell 4.4 per cent from 2013.

Consumer consumption had been a driving force for the economy for years, but it grew just 0.9 per cent last year.

“This seems unsustainable given the run-up in consumer debt and signs that the labour market is weakening,” London-based Capital Economics said in an emailed statement

Still, most economists were expecting figures from the IBGE statistics bureau to show the country actually entered a recession last year. Most private economists polled by the Central Bank expect Brazil to be in a recession this year.

The bureau said the better-than-expected 2014 results were mainly due to 0.7 per cent growth in the services sector and a 0.4 per cent rise in the agribusiness sector. The industrial sector shrank 1.2 per cent.

IBGE said Brazil’s 2014 GDP totalled 5.52 trillion reals ($1.63 trillion), while the country’s GDP per capita was 27,229 reals (about $8,500).