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UPDATE 1-Brazil's central bank signals end to year of rate cuts
October 18, 2012 / 12:22 PM / in 5 years

UPDATE 1-Brazil's central bank signals end to year of rate cuts

* Most bank board members favored a “final” rate cut

* Bank signals that it is likely to hold rates for a while

BRASILIA, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Brazil’s central bank signaled on Thursday that a year-long easing cycle has come to an end and that it is likely to leave interest rates unchanged for a while as an economic recovery takes hold.

In minutes from last week’s monetary policy meeting in which the central bank cut its benchmark Selic rate for the tenth straight time to an all-time low of 7.25 percent, the bank said most board members agreed that the inflation outlook allowed for a “final” rate cut.

The bank’s committee was split 5 versus 3 in favor of cutting rates by 25 basis points, which was largely predicted by market traders and narrowly missed by analysts.

In the minutes, the bank also repeated that holding rates steady for a “sufficiently prolonged period” was the best strategy for inflation to converge to the center of the target range.

Lower interest rates have been one of the main priorities of President Dilma Rousseff who wants to bring back the impressive growth rates that made Brazil a star among emerging market economies over the last decade.

The latest economic data points to a pick up in activity in the third quarter after a flurry of government stimulus measures like targeted tax breaks and billions of reais in cheap loans to jump-start a nearly stagnant economy.

But many economist worry that keeping rates low for too long could stoke inflation in coming years. At 5.28 percent, annual inflation remains above the center of the official target range of 4.5 percent -- plus or minus 2 percentage points.

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