Brazil’s central bank says economy shrank 4.08 pct in 2015

RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil’s central bank said Thursday the economy contracted 4.08 per cent in 2015, the worst performance since the indicator was created in 2003.

The data also showed that the economy shrank 0.15 per cent in 2014 in non-seasonally adjusted figures.

The results were broadly in line with market expectations. The average forecast of 15 financial institutions surveyed by the financial newspaper Valor was a 4.1 per cent drop.

The bank used a methodology that differs from the one used to calculate the country’s official GDP figures. Brazil’s official statistics agency will publish its 2015 GDP figures at the beginning of March.

Brazil is experiencing its deepest recession since the 1930s. In January, the IMF forecast its economy would shrink by 3.5 per cent in 2016.

Credit agency Standard & Poor’s, meanwhile, said Wednesday it has downgraded Brazil’s sovereign credit rating to two notches below investment-grade territory.

Standard & Poor’s said on its website that it lowered the rating to BB from BB+ and the long-term local currency rating to BB from BBB- on “significant political and economic challenges.”

“The negative outlook reflects that we believe there is a greater than one-in-three likelihood of a further downgrade because of the risk of potential key policy reversals given Brazil’s fluid political dynamics and inconsistent policy initiatives,” Standard & Poor’s said.

The downgrade came five months after the agency downgraded the country’s sovereign debt to “junk” status.