Brazil Inflation Quickens

Brazil’s annual inflation rate accelerated to the highest in more than three years this month on food costs, topping the upper limit of the central bank’s target band., 11/26/2008 7:02:32 AM

Consumer prices, as measured by the government’s benchmark IPCA-15 index, rose 6.54 percent in the 12 months through mid- November, the most since July 2005. The monthly increase quickened to 0.49 percent, the national statistics agency said today on its Web Site, from 0.3 percent a month earlier.

The inflation surge will prevent the central bank from cutting interest rates in the months ahead to boost a slowing economy, economists said. Growth in 2009 will ease to 4 percent from an estimated 6 percent expansion this year, Finance Minister Guido Mantega said this week. Policy makers target inflation of 4.5 percent, plus or minus 2 percentage points.

The central bank last month halted six months of interest rate increases to gauge whether the global credit crisis will slow economic growth enough to contain inflation stoked by a three-month, 31 percent slump in the local currency.

Falling commodity prices and slower economic growth may help bring inflation back to the country’s target next year, giving policy makers room to cut interest rates, Serrano said. Inflation will slow to 4.7 percent next year, compared with 6.2 percent in 2008, he said.

Food and beverage prices jumped 0.9 percent in the month through mid-November, compared with 0.05 percent in the previous month, according to today’s report.

Policy makers held the benchmark interest rate at a two-year high of 13.75 percent on Oct. 29. Economists covering Brazil expect the central bank to keep the rate unchanged at their next meeting Dec. 9-10, according to a central bank survey of about 100 analysts published Nov. 24.

Brazil Inflation Quickens