Brazil Analysts Forecast 7% Inflation in 2016 as Real Dropsby
Central bank to raise key rate this week, economists predict
Real seen weakening for two straight years to 4.3/dlr in 2017
Brazil’s consumer prices will rise 7 percent this year as the currency continues to depreciate, increasing pressure on the central bank to resume monetary tightening this week.
Economists surveyed by the central bank raised their 2016 inflation forecast for the third straight week and expect consumer price increases to exceed the 6.5 percent upper limit of the target range for a second straight year.
Finance Minister Nelson Barbosa wasn’t much more optimistic, telling reporters in Brasilia that the government expects inflation to slow more than 3 basis points in 2016. Brazil’s benchmark IPCA consumer price index hit 10.67 percent in 2015, the highest in 12 years, even as the economy faces its deepest recession in more than two decades.
Part of that pressure stemmed from the impact of weaker currency on prices of imported goods. Analysts surveyed by the central bank forecast the real, which lost the most among all major currencies last year, to further devalue to 4.25 per dollar by the end of this year and to 4.3 per dollar by end-2017. The real gained 0.4 percent to 4.03 per dollar at 4:35 p.m. local time.
The survey released on Monday marks the first time since June that economists’ 2017 currency forecast is weaker than that of this year.
With inflation seen above target again in 2016, the central bank is expected to resume this week a cycle of rate increases that could deepen the recession. Policy makers will increase the benchmark interest rate to 14.75 percent from 14.25 percent on Wednesday, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 38 economists.
The central bank survey shows that inflation is expected to reach 5.4 percent in 2017 -- above the target range’s 4.5 percent mid-point, and up from analysts’ previous 5.2 percent forecast.
Latin America’s largest economy will shrink 2.99 percent in 2016, according to the survey.