Brazil central bank aligned over concern about market inflation expectations

By Thomson Reuters Jun 7, 2024 | 11:44 AM

SAO PAULO/BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s central bank chief, Roberto Campos Neto, expressed concern on Friday that financial markets were still expecting high inflation despite data showing moderation, a view echoed by other bank officials.

The comments by several bank officials suggested alignment over the issue at the bank, following a split decision on rates last month.

At an event in Sao Paulo, Campos Neto said he believed time would work in favor of the central bank by dissipating what he called “noises” that have driven market inflation expectations up.

Brazilian central bank officials have warned of rising inflation expectations in the country despite better-than-expected inflation figures.

Speaking at a different event hosted by the University of Brasilia (UnB), monetary policy director Gabriel Galipolo said that global liquidity restrictions amid an environment of high interest rates in advanced economies had brought additional challenges.

“What puts Brazil in a slightly more delicate situation is that we saw changes in the terminal rate, but we continue to see unanchoring (inflation) expectations,” he said.

Private economists surveyed weekly by the central bank raised their year-end projections for the Selic benchmark interest rate to 10.25%.

They also increased their inflation projections to 3.88% this year, 3.77% in 2025, and 3.60% in 2026, compared with the official target of 3%.

Campos Neto said the central bank refrained from signaling any future steps in its latest policy decision in May to gain time to understand the international scenario and “such a big dichotomy” between good inflation figures and worse inflation expectations in Brazil.

After unexpectedly strong U.S. monthly jobs data doused hopes the U.S. Federal Reserve would soon embark on an easing cycle, Campos Neto said there was no mechanical relation between the data and the conduct of monetary policy in Brazil, stressing policymakers would focus on how these developments could impact macroeconomic variables.

Brazil’s annual inflation rate hit 3.7% in mid-May, above the central bank’s 3% target but within its 1.5%-4.5% target range.

Earlier on Friday, at another event in Sao Paulo, the central bank’s director of international affairs, Paulo Picchetti, stressed that bringing inflation back to its target was a “huge” challenge, but reaffirmed the central bank’s commitment to pursuing it.

Picchetti also said it was premature to talk about potentially hiking interest rates at the moment.

Policymakers have cut rates by 325 basis points since the easing cycle began in August to 10.50%.

In a split decision last month, the central bank reduced rates by 25 basis points, following six cuts of twice that size. The next policy meeting will take place on June 18-19, with interest rate futures pricing in a pause in the easing cycle.

(Reporting by Fabricio de Castro in Sao Paulo and Marcela Ayres in Brasilia; Editing by Gabriel Araujo, Chizu Nomiyama, Peter Graff)