14/12/2012 16:51:00

UPDATE: Brazil's Rousseff Approval Rises Despite Economic Slowdown

--Approval for President Dilma Rousseff's performance rises to all-time high, says poll

--President gets strong support for social and employment policies

--Disapproval rises on inflation, interest rate policies

(Adds comments on poll, additional details from fourth paragraph.)

By Gerald Jeffris

BRASILIA--Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff wraps up her second year in office with a record-high approval despite the poor performance of economic growth.

Approval of Ms. Rousseff's personal performance rose to 78% in December from 77% reported in September, while approval of her administration as a whole was steady at 62%, According to a poll by the Ibope opinion research institute on behalf of the National Confederation of Industries, or CNI.

While economic growth has slowed to a snail's pace this year, it hasn't really been felt by households, as unemployment remains at record lows and incomes have been rising. Brazil's gross domestic product is likely to grow just 1% this year, down from 2.7% growth in 2011 and 7.5% in 2010.

"The economic crisis still hasn't completely arrived in the population's perception," said Renato da Fonseca, research director at CNI.

Indeed, 56% of respondents approved of the government's performance on employment while 41% disapproved, according to the poll.

The government got lower marks for handling of inflation and interest rates, with more than 50% of respondents expressing disapproval. Consumer inflation is projected to end 2012 and 2013 above the government's annual target of 4.5%.

Mr. Fonseca expressed surprise that people were critical of interest rate policies, as the central bank has slashed its key rate to a historical low of 7.25%.

"What has probably happened is that consumers haven't fully perceived this reduction of interest rates," said Mr. Fonseca. Average interest rates paid on consumer loans are still above 35% per year.

Brazilians are increasingly concerned about public security, education and healthcare, but this hasn't had an impact on the administration's ratings. Mr. Fonseca said people probably attribute less blame directly to Ms. Rousseff and her team, as responsibility is also shared with state and municipal governments.

"Probably, the increase in disapproval in these areas arose as a result of political debates during recent municipal elections, which raised more awareness of these problems," Mr. Fonseca said.

The latest Ibope poll was taken among 2,002 Brazilians in 142 cities nationwide between Dec. 6-9. The poll's margin of error is two percentage points.

Write to Gerald Jeffris at gerald.jeffris@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 14, 2012 11:51 ET (16:51 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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