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UPDATE 2-Brazil September retail sales rise above forecast

SAO PAULO, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Brazilian retail sales rose slightly more than expected in September from August, underscoring the strength of domestic demand in Latin America's biggest economy. Retail sales volumes in Brazil rose 0.4 percent in September from August, government statistics agency IBGE said on Friday. Retail sales were expected to firm 0.15 percent, according to the median estimate of 18 economists polled by Reuters. Forecasts ranged from contraction of 1 percent to growth of 0.7 percent. Sales jumped 11.8 percent from the year-ago period , the IBGE added, more than the 11.1 percent median estimate in the Reuters poll. Forecasts ranged from 9.5 percent to 11.9 percent. The steep growth of Latin America's largest economy at the start of the year stoked worries of overheating. But the growth in Brazil's economy has come unevenly, with industrial output lagging, where output dropped all through the second quarter and has struggled to recover since, with dips in August and September, as well. Analysts point to a flood of imports, boosted by Brazil's strong currency, and well-stocked inventories as culprits. Nevertheless, much like retail sales and other indicators, industrial output has grown from last year, when Brazil left recession far ahead of many more developed economies, largely on the back of domestic demand. Brazil's economy is now expanding more slowly than its breakneck first-quarter rate, at what many economists see as a still-robust, more sustainable pace, and the central bank has held its benchmark interest rate at 10.75 percent for two consecutive meetings. The IBGE also revised the growth in August sales volumes down to 1.9 percent from a previously reported 2 percent. The agency also revised August sales from the previous year higher, to 10.5 percent from a previously reported 10.4 percent. Nominal sales, as measured by total sales receipts and unadjusted for inflation, climbed 0.9 percent month on month in September and were up 15.2 percent from a year earlier. Retail sales volumes, unlike total receipts via cash or credit cards, exclude inflation which could distort comparisons. For the IBGE's retail sales report see: http://ibge.gov.br/home/presidencia/noticias/noticia_visualiza.php?id_noticia=1754&id_pagina=1 (Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier and Brian Ellsworth; Writing by Luciana Lopez, Editing by W Simon) Keywords: BRAZIL ECONOMY/RETAIL (luciana.f.lopez@thomsonreuters.com; Reuters Messaging: luciana.f.lopez.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net; Tel: +5511-5644-7756) COPYRIGHT Copyright Thomson Reuters 2010. All rights reserved.

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