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BRASILIA: Industrial production in Brazil rose 7% in May, official figures showed on Thursday, the second biggest monthly increase on record as activity started to pick up again following two months of stricter lockdown to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

While optimists will see the data as proof the worst of the economic crisis is over and a rebound underway, only a small part of output lost in March and April has been recovered and the figures were burnished by a record collapse the month before.

Industrial production rose 7.0% in May from April, the biggest monthly increase since June 2018, and second biggest since statistic agency IBGE's series began in 2002.

Production was down 21.9% on the year.

The median estimates in a Reuters poll of economists projected a monthly rise of 6.7% and an annual decline of 23.1%.

Production of consumer durable goods rose 92.5% from the previous month and capital goods rose 28.7%, IBGE said.

Among the 26 sectors surveyed, 20 registered an increase in production on the month, IBGE said, with a 244% surge in auto and auto parts output, and a 16.2% jump in oil and biofuels production among the biggest drivers of the broader rebound.

The bigger picture, however, is more mixed.

Industrial production in Latin America's largest economy is down 11.2% so far this year, and down a whopping 34% from the peak in May 2011, IBGE said.