The Brazilian central bank on Wednesday held interest rates at an all-time low despite a currency selloff, as widely anticipated, but said it could “gradually” raise them in the future if inflation expectations spike.
Brazil's benchmark Bovespa index rose 1.75% on Tuesday, rallying for a second straight day largely on a spike in commodities prices. Two of the Bovespa's most heavily weighted equities, miner Vale and oil giant Petrobras benefited from rising commodity prices worldwide amid escalating China-U.S. trade tensions and signals OPEC is not prepared to raise output to address shrinking supplies from Iran.
Brazil's financial institutions on Monday reduced the 2018 economic growth forecast to 1.5%, half the initial estimate issued at the beginning of the year, according to the Central Bank weekly survey. The Focus Bulletin, which interviews analysts and economists from Brazil's financial market every Monday, the country's growth estimate was actually reduced from the previous week's 1.53%.
Brazil’s central bank kept interest rates unchanged on Wednesday, as expected, refraining from hiking even after a sharp currency slide as policymakers highlighted the unclear impact of a nationwide protest by truckers in late May.
Brazilian President Michel Temer said on Thursday there was no risk of a currency crisis in Latin America's largest economy despite sharp falls in the exchange rate, while the central bank chief pledged to maintain the bank's intervention in the market.
Brazil's inflation rate unexpectedly slowed in April and kept far below the official target, suggesting a recent period of currency weakness is unlikely to keep the central bank from cutting interest rates next week.
Brazil's policy makers welcomed an upward revision of the country's growth by the International Monetary Fund, while downplaying the fact its estimate remains lower than others.
Lower power tariffs pulled Brazil's inflation rate below the official target range and even the lowest of forecasts in January. Consumer prices tracked by the benchmark IPCA index rose 2.86% in the twelve months through January, government statistics agency IBGE said on Thursday.
Brazil’s central bank cut its benchmark interest rate on Wednesday to a new low of 6.75%, but hinted it was now done with a historic easing cycle. The bank lowered the Selic rate by 0.25 percentage point, its 11th consecutive cut aimed at helping Latin America’s largest economy emerge from a stifling two-year recession.
The annual inflation rate in Brazil increased to 2.95% in December, from 2.50% in November, rising above economists' projections of 2.80%, but ending the year below the bottom of the central bank's target for 2017, which ranged from 3% to 6%.