Saturday, May31st2014– 06:05 UTC

Brazil’s economy grew 0.2% in the first quarter compared to the final three months of 2013, a pace slower than economists had forecast, the government said Friday. Meanwhile GDP rose 1.9% relative to the first quarter of 2013, according to figures released by the state-run Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, or IBGE.

Accumulated growth in the 12 months through March was up 2.5% from the April 2012-March 2013 period.

The IBGE, meanwhile, revised 2013 growth upward to 2.5%, compared to an initial reading of 2.3%.

Brazil’s economy expanded 7.5% in 2010 but the growth rate has been slower in recent years, coming in at 2.7% in 2011 and just 1% in 2012.

Private-sector economists are expecting 1.63% growth this year, far below the government’s forecast for growth of between 2.3% and 2.5%.

Brazil’s first-quarter performance not only fell short of the forecasts of economists, who were expecting 0.3% growth, but also marked a slowdown compared to the 0.4% expansion in the fourth quarter relative to the previous three months.

Agricultural output rose 3.6% in the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter of 2013, but industry and the services sector posted growth rates of just 0.8% and 0.4%, respectively.

The first-quarter slowdown was due mainly to a 0.1% decline in household consumption, which until last year had been the main driver of Brazilian growth.

Higher spending by families in Latam’s largest economy was the result of unemployment and poverty reduction and income gains in recent years.