Brazil Central Bank’s weekly survey of financial institutions and market analysts, known as the Focus report, found that estimates for the country’s benchmark interest rate, the Selic (now at 10.5% per year), were for the Monetary Policy Committee (Copom) to lower it to 9.5% by the end of this year.
However, the market sees it rising to 10.5% at the end of 2013.
It should be pointed out that Copom is meeting today and that expectations are definitely for a reduction – the question is how much. It is possible that the Selic will drop to 9.5% much sooner than expected.
With regard to inflation this year, as measured by the Broad Consumer Price Index (“IPCA”), the government’s official inflation yardstick, market estimates fell slightly from 5.29% to 5.24%. The official inflation target is 4.5%, plus or minus two percentage points.
However, the market raised its inflation projection for 2013 slightly from 5% to 5.02%.
Financial institutions and market analysts consulted by the Central Bank continue to forecast GDP growth for 2012 at 3.3%, as they have done for some weeks now.
At a recent press conference when he announced budget cuts totaling 55 billion reais (US$ 31 billion), minister of Finance, Guido Mantega, maintained his forecast of GDP growth at 4.5%.
The latest Focus report also found market forecasts for industrial growth this year had fallen slightly from 2.7% to 2.5%.
Although exports performed well in February, running a surplus of over US$ 1.7 billion for the first three weeks of the month, there was a foreign trade deficit in January, with the result that the cumulative surplus for the first two months of 2012 up to the third week of February, at US$ 429 million, is 78% less than the cumulative for the same period in 2011, when it was US$ 1.954 billion.
So far this year, exports are up 3%, compared to the same period in 2011, but the problem is that imports have risen 10% during the same period.
Thus, cumulative exports for 2012 (up to the third week of February) reached US$ 28.535 billion (compared to US$ 27.513 billion in 2011), while imports reached US$ 28.106 billion (compared to US$ 25.559 billion in 2011).