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'Brazil's economy narrowly escaped recession in the fourth quarter of 2011 as consumer spending offset moribund manufacturing, the latest big emerging market economy to signal an economic slowdown.

Brazil's gross domestic product grew 0.34% in the fourth quarter from the third notching an annualized rate of 1.36%. The economy actually shrank 0.1% in the third quarter. Brazil's sluggish growth came after China on Monday said it lowered its economic growth target to 7.5% for this year, down from an 8% target in each of the last seven years. India's economy grew 6.1% in the fourth quarter, its slowest rate in two years, the government said last month.'

'Brazil blames slow growth on its strong currency, which has makes locally made goods uncompetitive. Meeting with global leaders in Germany in recent days, Ms. Rousseff criticized the aggressive monetary easing by the U.S. and Europe because it weakens the dollar and the euro, while sending a speculative flood of money toward Brazil, which strengthens the real.

In the fourth quarter, an increase in Brazilian consumer consumption and agriculture helped to offset the troubled manufacturing sector, leading to some concerns that a "two-speed" economy may be developing. Unemployment remains low, wages are increasing and the government has vowed to continue to encourage the growth of credit, which means domestic demand should remain strong. '
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