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Brazilian markets rattled by Bolsonaro's removal of Petrobras chief
Petrobras horizontal logo, international version
Petrobras horizontal logo, international version Credit: Petrobras - Petróleo Brasileiro S.A.

Brazilian markets plunged on Monday after President Jair Bolsonaro removed the head of state-controlled oil company, the latest sign that his government is rolling back market-friendly policy initiatives to shore up his sinking popularity.

Bolsonaro's decision on Friday to replace the University of Chicago-educated economist at the helm of Petroleo Brasileiro SA after a feud over fuel prices surprised even his inner political circle, according to two government officials familiar with the episode.

Bolsonaro's popularity is dropping to near record lows after a program of cash handouts expired in December, with an MDA poll published Monday showing his approval rating fell 8 percentage points to 32.9% over the past four months.