Brazil’s real declined from its highest level in two weeks after Moody’s Investors Service cited rising debt and sluggish growth in lowering its outlook on the nation’s credit rating to stable from positive.
The real dropped for the first time in four days, depreciating 0.7 percent to 2.2069 per U.S. dollar. The currency rallied yesterday to 2.1917, its strongest since Sept. 18. Swap rates on the contract due in January 2015 fell 10 basis points, or 0.10 percentage point, to 10.17 percent today.
Brazil’s government debt will probably stay at about 60 percent of gross domestic product, higher than the 45 percent median for its peers, Moody’s said yesterday in a statement as it cut the outlook on the nation’s Baa2 rating, the second-lowest investment grade. The economy will grow at annual rates of “just over” 2 percent in 2013 and 2014, Moody’s said.
“This should help restrain some of the real’s appreciation,” Marco Antonio Caruso, an economist at Banco Pine SA, said by phone from Sao Paulo. “We haven’t seen any change in the structure of Brazil’s economy, and Moody’s action is one more sign of this.”
Moody’s also pointed to recurrent lending by the Treasury to public banks as well as the “deterioration in reporting quality of the government accounts” for its decision. Brazil’s credit rating is the same as Peru, Italy and Kazakhstan and a step below that of South Africa, Mexico, Thailand and Russia.
“Even though there are signs that the Brazilian economy may be starting to recover, Moody’s view is that, if and when the upturn materializes, it is unlikely that it will be strong enough to restore a positive trend in Brazil credit metrics,” Moody’s said in its statement.
In June, Standard & Poor’s reduced its outlook on Brazil’s rating from stable to negative, citing sluggish growth and expansionary fiscal policy. S&P rates the nation the same level as Moody’s.
Brazil’s efforts to lure private investment for infrastructure projects and a pledge to reduce lending by state banks help support a stable outlook on the rating, Mauro Leos, a sovereign analyst at Moody’s, said in a telephone interview from Buenos Aires.
“The first step is to restore growth to the trend of above 3 percent,” Leos said. “We’re not sure how successful it is going to be” in attracting foreign investors to infrastructure.
Global bond yields showed investors ignored 56 percent of Moody’s and 50 percent of rival Standard & Poor’s rating and outlook changes last year, more often than not disagreeing when the companies said governments were becoming safer or more risky, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
The real has rallied 10 percent since Aug. 22, when the central bank announced a $60 billion intervention program to bolster the currency and reduce the price of imports. The gain is the biggest among all of the world’s currencies.
Policy makers will work to bring inflation as close to target as possible next year, central bank President Alexandre Tombini said in an interview in London yesterday. Annual inflation has twice broken the 6.5 percent upper limit of the central bank’s target range this year.
Brazil has raised the target lending rate by 1.75 percentage points to 9 percent from a record low 7.25 percent in April, the fastest pace among 49 major economies tracked by Bloomberg. The central bank is next scheduled to meet Oct. 8-9.