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Brazil March Foreign Direct Investment Rises to 3-Month High

Brazil’s foreign direct investment rose to a three-month high in March, beating all but three forecasts in a Bloomberg survey of 15 analysts.

Foreign direct investment increased to $5.9 billion from $3.6 billion in February, the central bank said, more than the analysts’ $4.3 billion median estimate.

The shortfall in the current account, the broadest measure of trade in goods and services, widened to $3.3 billion from a revised $1.7 billion in February, the central bank said in a report distributed today in Brasilia. The median estimate of 19 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was for a deficit of $4 billion.

The real has weakened 8.5 percent since the start of March, the biggest fall among 16 major currencies tracked by Bloomberg, after President Dilma Rousseff’s government took action to protect the nation’s manufacturers from currency appreciation. Rousseff has vowed to do whatever is needed to protect Brazil from a “monetary tsunami” caused by stimulus policies in rich nations.

The real strengthened 0.2 percent to 1.8771 per U.S. dollar at 10.51 a.m. local time. The yield on the interest rate future contracts maturing in January 2013, the most traded in Sao Paulo, fell five basis points, or 0.05 percentage point, to 8.400 percent.

The central bank expects a current account gap of $68 billion and foreign direct investment of $50 billion this year, Tulio Maciel, the bank’s head of economic research, said last month.

The central bank has reduced interest rates by 3.5 percentage points, to 9 percent, since August, and last week signaled that it may cut further, as a “fragile” world economy eases inflationary pressure.

In March, Rousseff extended a 6 percent tax on foreign loans and bonds issued abroad to include lending with a maturity of as much as five years. The tax, which originally applied to foreign borrowing of as much as two years, had already been extended on March 1 to include loans of three years.

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