Brazil Economists Trim Forecast for Interest Rate Cuts in 2016

Brazil economists forecast the central bank will be less aggressive when cutting interest rates this year as inflation remains sticky and a new board signaled resistance to looser policy.

Economists’ median forecast for the benchmark rate at year-end rose to 13.5 percent from 13.25 percent the prior week, marking the first increase in the central bank’s weekly Focus survey since June. The Selic currently stands at 14.25 percent, its highest level in nearly 10 years.

Brazil’s inflation in the month through mid-July caught most economists off guard, accelerating by more than all but one of their estimates. Headline IPCA inflation is still running at nearly double the 4.5 percent target, and economists surveyed by the central bank only see it slowing to 7.21 percent by year-end.

The central bank’s monetary policy committee has held the Selic at its current level for eight straight meetings, even after Ilan Goldfajn took over as the bank’s president and Acting President Michel Temer said he hoped the monetary authority would lower borrowing costs. Most recently, board members voted unanimously after their July 19-20 meeting to keep the Selic unchanged.

“All board members acknowledged progress in the disinflation outlook for the Brazilian economy, but expressed concern about inflation expectations,” policy makers said in minutes of their first meeting under Goldfajn.

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