WEDNESDAY, MAY 21, 2014
SAO PAULO–Brazilian consumer prices slowed through mid-May versus the previous month, as the impacts of one of the worst droughts in decades in food prices receded, reinforcing economists view that the central bank will keep benchmark interest rate unchanged in the next week.
Brazil’s mid-month consumer-price index, the IPCA-15, rose 0.58% compared with a 0.78% climb in the month through mid-April, the Brazilian Geographic and Statistics Institute, or IBGE, said Wednesday. The mid-May figure was in line with an expected increase of between 0.45% and 0.62% according to a poll of economists conducted by the local Estado news agency.
The slowdown came as food prices, which carry the greatest weighting in the index, picked up 0.88% in the month through mid-May, compared with an increase of 1.84% in the previous period.
In the past several months, food prices have increased as the country’s worst drought in decades pushed up prices of fruits and vegetables, economists said, though in recent weeks the drought’s impact on prices has receded.
On the other hand, price pressures as measured by the rolling 12-month index picked up through mid-May, rising 6.31% versus the 6.19% recorded through mid-April, the IBGE said.
The central bank has acted aggressively in recent months to contain a surge in inflation late last year that pushed prices higher. The central bank raised interest rates to 11%, from a historic low of 7.25%, one year ago. Inflation ended 2013 at 5.91%–above the bank’s 4.5% target and the 5.84% mark registered in 2012.
Now, with first signs of inflation slowdown, although still in a monthly basis, and tepid economic indicators, economists are expecting the central bank to keep Selic rate unchanged in its next rate decision in the next week.