(Adds detail about the April figures, economic context, chart)
By Jamie McGeever
BRASILIA, June 14 (Reuters) - Economic activity in Brazil rebounded in April from a rare fall the month before, a central bank index showed on Monday, marking a firm start to the second quarter although not quite as strong as economists had expected.
The central bank's IBC-Br economic activity index, a leading indicator of gross domestic product, rose a seasonally adjusted 0.44% in April, less than the 0.55% rise economists in a Reuters poll had forecast.
By this measure, activity in Latin America's largest economy is a fraction higher than it was pre-pandemic in February last year.
The seasonally adjusted index in April stood at 139.65, just above the 139.35 seen in February last year before the COVID-19 pandemic brought the economy to a standstill and caused the biggest annual decline in activity since 1990.
Upbeat economic data in recent months have triggered a wave of upward forecast revisions. Economists now expect the economy to expand by almost 5% this year, according to a central bank survey on Monday.
Going by the IBC-Br activity index, however, Brazil's economy is still 6% smaller than it was at its peak in December 2013, on a seasonally adjusted basis.
The IBC-Br index was up 15.9% on a non-seasonally adjusted basis from April 2020, the central bank said, reflecting the scale of the economic downturn when the pandemic first struck.
The index was up 4.77% in the first four months of the year on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, while in the 12 months through April the index was down 1.2%, the central bank said.
(Reporting by Jamie McGeever Editing by Gareth Jones and Giles Elgood)