Bloomberg News

Brazil Inflation Quickens More Than Expected After Rate Cut

September 20, 2011

(Updates with analyst comment in fourth paragraph.)

Sept. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Brazilian consumer prices jumped more than economists expected this month, limiting the central bank’s space to further cut interest rates to shore up growth in Latin America’s biggest economy. Yields on interest-rate futures rose.

Consumer prices, as measured by the IPCA-15 index, rose 0.53 percent in the month through mid-September, the national statistics agency said today. That’s the fastest pace since May and steeper than 40 of 41 economists expected in a Bloomberg survey whose median forecast was for a 0.49 percent price rise.

Central bank President Alexandre Tombini cut Brazil’s benchmark interest rate a half point to 12 percent on Aug. 31, after raising it at the previous five policy meetings, citing a “substantial deterioration” in the global economy. The bank said the lower borrowing costs won’t compromise its 4.5 percent inflation target next year.

“Inflation has quite a lot of pressure and there’s no sign that the global slowdown is affecting the domestic scenario,” said Luciano Rostagno, chief strategist at CM Capital Markets in Sao Paulo. “The chances of inflation cooling down this month as the bank has been saying is less and less likely.”

Borrowing Costs

Traders pared bets for lower borrowing costs in the interest rate futures market, pushing the yield on contracts due January 2013 up two basis points, or 0.02 percentage point, to 10.66 percent at 9:13 a.m. New York time. The real rose 1 percent to 1.7793 per U.S. dollar.

Yesterday, in a speech in Lisbon, Tombini said that Brazil can take advantage of a deterioration in the global economic environment to “rebalance” its macro-economic policies. While he didn’t specify what policies may be adjusted, analysts expect him to lower the benchmark Selic rate another percentage point this year, according to a Sept. 16 bank survey of 100 economists published yesterday.

In August, Tombini said annual inflation will have a “significant” drop from September and will be reduced by two percentage points by April.

Analysts covering Brazil’s economy estimate prices will keep rising next year and inflation will stay above the bank’s target through 2013, according the central bank survey. This year, consumer prices as measured by the IPCA index will rise 6.46 percent, the survey found.

Inflation doubled this month from the 0.27 percent reading in mid-August, led by a 1 percent jump in clothing prices and 0.72 percent increase in the cost of food and beverages, the statistics agency said.

Prices rose 7.33 percent from a year ago, the fastest pace in six years. Inflation first breached the 6.5 percent upper limit of the government’s target range in May.

‘Very Pressured’

“Today’s number indicates that inflation is very pressured and should be above the high end of the target range this year,” said Silvio Campos Neto, an economist at Tendencias Consultoria Integrada in Sao Paulo.

Even as the industrial sector shrank in July from a year earlier, higher wages continue to bolster demand for consumer goods.

Unemployment fell to 6 percent in July, its lowest level this year, fueling a 1.4 percent jump in retail sales in the month that was the biggest this year. The country’s minimum wage, which is used to adjust pension payments, is slated to rise 14 percent next year.

As inflation accelerates, workers across the nation have walked off their jobs to demand higher salaries. More than 70,000 metalworkers in the industrial belt surrounding Sao Paulo are scheduled to vote today whether to strike after carmakers and manufacturers rejected their demand for a 10 percent raise.

Brazil’s economic growth slowed last quarter to 3.2 percent from a year earlier, down from 4.2 percent in the first quarter and a 7.5 percent pace last year that was the fastest in two decades. The retail industry led the second-quarter expansion, increasing 4.9 percent from a year ago.

--Editors: Harry Maurer, Richard Jarvie

To contact the reporter on this story: Alexander Ragir in Rio de Janeiro at aragir@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net


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