Brazil's Central Bank Says It May Partially Unwind Swaps Program

  • International environment opens opportunity to reduce rollover
  • Real best performer among major currencies this year

Brazil’s central bank said it sees room to partially unwind a program aimed at boosting the real, prompting the currency to pare gains.

Policy makers see the international economic environment creating an opportunity to unwind part of its foreign exchange swaps program by reducing its daily rollovers, the central bank press office told reporters on Thursday by telephone.

The central bank has used the sale of foreign exchange swap contracts, which are equivalent to selling dollars in the futures market, as a hedging instrument for local investors and companies against a sharp devaluation of Brazil’s currency. Even as Brazil’s economy faces shrinking activity and above-target inflation, the real has surged the most this year among a list of 31 major currencies tracked by Bloomberg on speculation that President Dilma Rousseff may be impeached.

"The central bank is recognizing the increasing probability of an impeachment happening," said Leonardo Monoli, a partner at Jive Asset Gestao de Recursos in Sao Paulo, said by phone. "Many international investors could return to the country, while companies could unwind hedging strategies once Rousseff is out of the position, and that would certainly support the real."

The real gained 2.5 percent to 3.6497 per U.S. dollar at 3:09 p.m. local time after rising as much as 3.7 percent earlier in the day. The currency has gained 8.6 percent this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The central bank started the intervention program in 2013 after the real hit almost a five-year low at that time. Since March 2015, it has been rolling over the contracts maturing each month, offering to extend up to 100 percent of the contracts maturing in January and February.

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