RIO DE JANEIRO Ė Brazilís economy grew 1 percent in the first quarter of this year, compared to the final three months of 2016, marking the first expansion of the gross domestic product (GDP) since December 2014, the government said on Thursday.
The three sectors that make up Brazilís GDP either expanded or were unchanged in the first quarter, according to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE).
The agriculture sector led the way with 13.4 percent growth Ė its best result in 20 years Ė thanks to a record grain harvest, while the industrial sector grew 0.9 percent after contracting for two consecutive quarters.
Output in the services sector, which accounts for 70 percent of Brazilís GDP, was unchanged.
ďToday is a historic day. After two years, Brazil has come out of its worst recession of the century. During this period, millions of Brazilians lost their jobs, thousands of companies went bankrupt, the state headed toward insolvency and Brazil lost the confidence of investors and confidence in itself,Ē Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles said in a brief statement.
But GDP fell 0.4 percent compared to the same three months of 2016. Brazilís economy also shrank by 2.3 percent in the four quarters that ended in March, although that was an improvement over the 3.6 percent contraction for the four quarters that ended in December 2016.
The agriculture sector grew even more in the annual comparison, rising 15.2 percent from the first quarter of 2016, while the industrial sector contracted by 1.1 percent and services declined by 1.7 percent.
The South American countryís economy contracted 3.6 percent in 2016, remaining in recession for two consecutive years for the first time since the 1930s.
Latin Americaís largest economy shrank by 3.8 percent in 2015, its worst result in 25 years, and eked out just 0.1 percent growth in 2014.
Since taking office last year when his predecessor, Dilma Rousseff, was ousted via an impeachment process, President Michel Temerís administration has pushed through austerity measures aimed at bringing down a large budget deficit.
He also backs pension system and labor-market overhauls that are weaving their way through Congress, although those measures could be threatened by corruption allegations that have led to calls for Temer to resign.
The Supreme Court launched an investigation into Temer last month after executives with Brazilian meatpacking giant JBS told prosecutors in plea-bargain testimony that the president accepted bribes from the company and encouraged it to pay hush money to a former top lawmaker convicted of corruption.
Economists are forecasting that Brazilís GDP will grow by 0.49 percent this year and 2.48 percent in 2018.