BRASILIA, April 12 (Reuters) - Brazilian retail sales unexpectedly contracted in February, underscoring an uneven recovery of the nation's dominant services sector following the deepest recession in decades.
Retail sales fell 0.2 percent from January, government statistics agency IBGE said on Thursday, compared with a median estimate of a 0.8 increase in a Reuters poll of economists.
The reading undershot even the most pessimistic forecast in the survey, a 0.3 percent increase.
Still, Thomson Reuters' SmartEstimate, which weighs contributions according to past performance, indicated a smaller-than-the-median 0.7 percent increase, suggesting forecasters were aware of the potential for disappointment.
Sales rose 1.3 percent from the year before, the slowest pace in a year and below the poll's 4.0 percent median forecast.
Weakness in fuel sales resulting from high prices accounted for a large portion of the deceleration, IBGE said. Still, the underwhelming results highlight the two-track rebound of the economy.
Services, which account for about 60 percent of Brazil's gross domestic product, have gone through ups and downs despite clear signs of an upward trend.
Meanwhile, industrial output, which benefits from foreign demand and a weak currency, has been through a sustained upswing at the fastest rate of growth in five years. (Reporting by Bruno Federowski; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)