Brazilian auto output, sales down in October

Brazilian auto output and sales slumped in October, as high interest rates and a strong local currency appeared to discourage buyers here and abroad, manufacturers said Friday.

Auto production fell to 191,326 units in October, down 7.9 percent from September although 0.5 percent higher than the same month a year earlier, the Brazilian Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association, or Anfavea, said.

Domestic sales fell to 130,178 units, down 4.7 percent from September and 1.1 percent lower than in October 2004, according to Anfavea.

Exports also declined in October to 61,792 vehicles, down 16.6 percent from a month earlier and down 1.7 percent from the same month in the previous year.

Export revenues slumped to US$969.2 million (-812.2 million), 7.2 percent lower than in September but up 15.3 percent from a year ago, Anfavea said.

The decline in foreign sales appeared to reflect the strengthening of the Brazilian real, which has gained more than 15 percent against the U.S. dollar this year. Local buyers were discouraged by high interest rates, which peaked at 19.75 percent as the government tried to reduce inflation.

But consumers may be encouraged by a recent decision by Brazil's central bank to reduce interest rates. In October, the bank cut the benchmark Selic interest rate to 19 percent _ the second consecutive monthly reduction.

Total Brazilian auto production in the first 10 months was 2.035 million vehicles, up 11.8 percent from the same period of 2004, Anfavea said.

Domestic sales in that period were 1.304 million units, 7.5 percent higher than a year ago, while exports expanded 29.3 percent, to 685,088 vehicles.

Export revenues for the first 10 months of the year were $9.310 billion (-7.8 billion), a up 35.9% from the same period of 2004, AP reported. V.A.

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