Brazil industry confidence hits 15-year low

As Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff tried to reassure investors, the National Industry Confederation said on Monday that the entrepreneurs' confidence index had hit its lowest level since the organization began monitoring the indicator in 1999.

The index, known in Brazil as Iceu for its Portuguese language acronym, “fell 0.7 percent in October, declining for a second consecutive time, accumulating a loss of 2.1 points in the past two months after a period of some stability,” a representative for the country's main industry organization said.

The index ranges from 0, which means a total lack of confidence, to 100, which is the maximum possible level of confidence by industry. Any level below 50 indicates a lack of confidence.

The index in October was at 35, 10.8 points below its October 2014 level and 20.4 points below the historical average for the entire period, the organization said.

While the index had shown relatively strong confidence levels in recent years, starting in the second quarter of 2014, it went into a negative territory.

Rousseff sought to reassure investors during a meeting with Brazilian and Swedish entrepreneurs on Monday. 

“Brazil continues to be a secure and attractive option for investments," she said during a conference in Sweden as part of a trip aimed at increasing commercial partnerships. "We are a country that offers big opportunities, and a sophisticated and secure business environment."

The comments come as most analysts projected contractions in the Brazilian economy this year and next. The country´s sovereign ratings, which measure a country´s repayment capacity, were lowered last week by Fitch Ratings to a level one notch below Colombia and two notches below Peru.

“We are a big democracy," Rousseff was reported as saying by Agency Brasil. "Our economy has strong fundamentals and we are working hard to strengthen its fiscal health, return to equilibrium, reduce inflation, consolidate macroeconomic stability, increase confidence and guarantee a return to growth."

The National Industry Confederation, which represents 27 industry federations and 1,250 labor unions in Brazil, said the decline in confidence in October was the worst among middle-sized companies.

“The index of current conditions remains below 30 points, which means that the perception of a worsening of economic conditions in the past six months remains intense and disseminated,” a representative from the industry organization said.

The organization's representative also pointed out that the index of expectations for the future, while better at 39.3 points, has suffered its fourth consecutive decline in past months.

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