Brazil Recovers From Strike But Investors, Consumers on Edge

(Bloomberg) -- Food and fuel supplies have increased in major Brazilian cities after a 10-day truckers’ strike paralyzed the country, but shortages and distrust will continue for some time.

In the capital Brasilia, the local government said it had fully restored the supply of automotive fuels. Yet lines continued to form at gas stations on Friday, as pent-up demand and hoarding by consumers lead stocks to deplete quickly. Fuel costs are higher than they were before the strike started May 21 and some local gas station owners were fined for abusive pricing.

While Brazilian consumers and companies return to business as usual, investors and the media Friday morning focused on the resignation of Pedro Parente, the chief of state-run oil company Petrobras, who had come under pressure to abandon market-driven pricing policy. Diesel prices had risen more than 50 percent over a year and were at the center of the truckers’ strike.

The real dropped 1 percent after Petrobras said Parente would step down and trading of the company’s shares was temporarily suspended.

Broader Unrest?

Another strike called by oil workers federation FUP ended late on Thursday without causing major damage. Yet it remains uncertain whether the massive truckers’ movement was a one-off or represented the beginning of broader social unrest.

On Friday morning protesters blocked one of the main access roads to Brasilia, demanding that gasoline prices also be cut and shouting "Out with Temer." Fuel bottlenecks remain in the country’s northeast, according to oil industry regulator ANP. Tourism has suffered throughout the country as travelers wary of fuel shortages canceled their reservations.

Access to the port of Santos, one of the country’s largest, has been fully cleared, but it will take 10 days before activities are back to normal, said the association of maritime navigation.

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