Considering the information already available for April, the average price of oil (Brent) was 95.7 euros per barrel in the first fourteen days of the month, decreasing by 10.1% compared to the average price attained in March (106.4 euros).
The short-term indicators for economic activity from the perspective of production, available for February, continued to point to strong nominal year-on-year increases, more intense than in the previous month, reflecting pronounced increases in implicit prices. In real terms there was an increase in construction and a decrease in industry. Comparing with February 2020, the production index in industry was the only with a lower level, with industry and services turnover indexes, as well as the construction production index being above the 2020 indexes. The synthesis quantitative indicators of private consumption and economic activity accelerated in February, while the indicator for gross fixed capital formation presented a deceleration. It should be noted that the evolution of the indicators partially reflects a base effect, since in January and February 2021 several measures to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic were in place, partially restricting economic activity.
The manufacturing price index recorded in March a year-on-year rate of change of 19.9% (16.5% in the previous month), the highest growth of the current series. Excluding the energy component, this index increased by 13.4% in year-on-year terms (12.0% growth in February). The year-on-year rate of change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was 5.3% in March, 1.1 percentage points higher than in the previous month, reaching the maximum since June 1994. It should also be noted that the Portuguese Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) year-on-year rate of change was 5.5%, the highest recorded value since the start of the HICP, in 1996. This rate was 2.0 percentage points below the figure estimated by Eurostat for the Euro Area in March, mainly reflecting significant differences in the prices of energy products, in particular electricity. In fact, excluding energy and unprocessed food products, the Portuguese HICP increased by 4.1% in March, above the corresponding rate for the Euro Area (estimated at 3.2%), presenting a very pronounced upward profile.
According to the provisional monthly Labour Force Survey, the unemployment rate (16 to 74 years old), seasonally adjusted remained at 5.8% for the third consecutive month, (6.2% in November and 6.8% in February 2021). The labour underutilization rate (16 to 74 years old) stood at 11.0%, 0.2 percentage points less than in January (13.5% and 12.6% in February 2021 and 2020, respectively). The employed population (16 to 74 years old), seasonally adjusted, increased by 4.2% in year-on-year terms and decreased 0.3% compared with the previous month (year-on-year rate of change of 5.0% in January).