Food shock over, Brazil inflation rate declines

May 8, 2013

Kenneth Rapoza – Forbes, 5/8/2013

Declining food prices helped Brazil’s monthly inflation index fall from 6.59% to 6.49%.  It’s not great, but it’s heading in the right direction.

Food inflation services have been the main culprit behind inflation this  year, but in April it was health and personal care groups that came in stronger than forecast, printing at 0.96% on the month for healthcare and 1.3% for personal care products.  Brazilians love their Nivea and Boticario.  The good news is that daily inflation surveys are suggesting that food inflation is moving down at an even faster pace, which means 6.49% won’t be topped in May.

“We see downside risks to inflation for May,” said Guilherme Loureiro, an analyst at Barclays Capital in São Paulo. He said in a note to clients on Wednesday that a temporary downtrend in domestic inflation plus renewed concerns about the global growth outlook, Barclays is still holding out for a 25 basis point rate hike in Brazil to 8.25%. That’ll happen mid-month if their analysis is right.

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Brazil isn’t growing—so why are Brazilians so happy?

May 8, 2013

The Economist, 05/07/2013

IN THE decade after Jim O’Neill of Goldman Sachs coined the acronym “BRICs” in 2001, grouping together four big countries with the potential for sustained growth, the “B”, Brazil, really put itself on the economic map. Having grown by 2.3% a year between 1995 and 2002, it grew by 4% annually in the following eight years. But Brazil then ran out of puff. It grew by a disappointing 2.7% in 2011, and a dismal 0.9% in 2012. Yet Brazilians seem blissfully unconcerned. IPEA, a Brazilian research institute, regularly finds that two-thirds to three-quarters of families say their financial situation improved during the past year, and that they expect it to get even better in the year ahead. In December Gallup, a global pollster, found that those optimistic about the economy outnumbered pessimists by a wider margin in Brazil than in any other large economy. Given that growth has stalled, why are Brazilians so happy?

The underlying reason is that even though the country as a whole is struggling, most families’ incomes are still rising fast. Unemployment is close to record lows and pay rises are comfortably outstripping inflation, partly because of big hikes to the minimum wage, but also because of that tight jobs market. Meanwhile, the gradual weaving of a social safety-net is rescuing many Brazilians from destitution. The result is falling inequality, a growing middle class — and a disconnect between GDP growth and most Brazilians’ actual experience.

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Brazil’s real closes weaker

May 3, 2013

Paul Kiernan – The Wall Street Journal, 05/02/2013

Brazil’s real closed moderately weaker against the dollar Thursday, likely influenced by financial and trade-related flows as well as a sharp decline in the euro after comments by Europe’s top central banker.

The real exited active trading at BRL2.0094 to the dollar, according to Tullett Prebon via FactSet, compared with Tuesday’s close of BRL1.9996. Brazilian financial markets were closed Wednesday for the country’s Labor Day holiday.

The euro, which Brazil’s currency sometimes tracks, lost around 1% of its value against the greenback after European Central Bank President Mario Draghideclined to rule out the possibility of cutting an interest rate on overnight deposits below zero. Implementing negative interest rates would be intended to encourage banks to lend or invest rather than leaving their extra cash at the ECB.

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Most emerging stocks drop on China data as Brazil sinks

May 2, 2013

Most emerging-market stocks fell as weaker growth in Chinese manufacturing overshadowed monetary easing in Europe and the prospect of interest-rate cuts in India. Brazil’s Ibovespa dropped for the first time this week.

Lenovo Group Ltd. (992) slumped 2.7 percent in Hong Kong after talks to buy parts of International Business Machines Corp.’s server division broke down, according to a person familiar with the discussions. Hyundai Merchant Marine Co. sank to an eight- year low in Seoul. Indian (SENSEX) stocks jumped the most in Asia, while Turkey rallied to a record. Brazilian mining company Vale SA, whose biggest export market is China, slumped 2.6 percent.

The MSCI Emerging Markets Index dropped 0.1 percent to 1,037.14 by 11:05 a.m. in New York, as 430 equities fell, while 351 rose. A private gauge of Chinese manufacturing declined last month, missing projections. The European Central Bank cut interest rates to a record low today, and the Reserve Bank of India will lower the repurchase rate for a third straight meeting, 33 of 40 analysts said in a Bloomberg survey.

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Barclays raises concern over Brazil

May 1, 2013

Kenneth Rapoza – Forbes, 04/30/2013

Brazil isn’t going broke anytime soon. Nor is it going the way of Venezuela and Argentina with its uber populist policies and threats of defaults of some kind or another — either through debt, or by canceling contracts with multinationals and just kicking them out of the country.  But Brazil is not doing as well as investors would like.

Solvency is not a short- to medium-term issue in Brazil, but according to Barclays Capital economist Marcelo Salomon in New York, the market is too complacent about the fiscal risks coming down the pike.

The breakdown of government expenses is worsening, Salomon says in a note on Tuesday, as investment spending remains very constrained.

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Brazil’s oil, gas concession auction breathes fresh life into sector

April 30, 2013

Jeff Fick – Fox Business/Dow Jones Newswires, 04/30/2013

Brazil’s much-anticipated new auction of oil and natural gas exploration concessions will breathe fresh life into the country’s oil industry, the superintendent of the National Oil Industry Organization, or ONIP, said in an interview Tuesday.

The fresh round of bidding, the country’s first since December 2008, is expected to generate a surge in activity across Brazil’s oil industry. Brazil’s National Petroleum Agency, or ANP, will put 289 oil and natural gas exploration blocks up for sale at the auction, which will be held May 14-15.

“Brazil is very attractive to the oil sector because of the recent discoveries, and some of the areas that are being offered are very interesting frontier areas–especially for large international companies,” said Alfredo Renault, ONIP’s superintendent. “The auction will be very successful with a lot of areas acquired by the market.”

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Not again, please! Brazil and India more vulnerable now to another crisis

April 26, 2013

Deepti Govind – Reuters, 04/25/2013

After bad economic news from Germany, China and the United States over the past few weeks, here are two more. Brazil and India, two of the world’s largest emerging economies, are increasingly vulnerable to another crisis or to the eventual end of the ultra-loose monetary policies in developed economies after five years of a severe global slowdown.

Weak demand for Brazil’s exports and the voracious appetite of local consumers for imported goods widened the country’s current account deficit to 2.93 percent of GDP in the 12 months through March, the widest gap in nearly eleven years. In dollar terms, that amounts to $67 billion.

To help fund this gap, Brazil could at first loosen the currency controls adopted in the past few years and let more dollars in. But if the dollar flows change too swiftly, Brazil would find itself with three other options: curb spending by growing less, allow a decline in the foreign exchange rate at the risk of fueling inflation, or burn part of its international reserves – which are large, at $377 billion, but not infinite.

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Brazil inflation: surging tomato prices create political headache

April 17, 2013

Luis Barrucho – BBC News, 04/17/2013

The city of Sao Paulo has a large Italian population and is proud of its Italian restaurants. So it came as a shock when some of them announced that any dish with a tomato base would be dropped from the menu.

This startling change to such a traditional offering came after tomato prices soared over the past 12 months in Brazil, at one point recording an increase of around 150%, according to the IBGE, Brazil’s statistics agency.

And the impact went far beyond restaurant tables as pressure grew on the government to curb rising inflation, an issue that is deeply sensitive in South America’s largest country.

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Tombini and Mantega signal Brazil to raise key rate soon

April 12, 2013

Francisco Marcelino & David Biller – Bloomberg, 04/12/2013

Brazil’s central bank President Alexandre Tombini and Finance Minister Guido Mantega signaled that policy makers will raise the benchmark rate soon as inflation accelerates above the bank’s target range. Swap rates jumped.

“There is not and there won’t be tolerance of inflation,” Tombini told reporters in Rio de Janeiro. “We are closely monitoring all indicators and in the future will make decisions on the best course for monetary policy.”

Brazil is ready to take necessary steps, including higher rates, to control inflation, Mantega said earlier today at an event in Sao Paulo. There is no need to slow growth to control price increases, Mantega added.

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Living the custo Brasil

April 12, 2013

The Economist – 04/11/2013

A YEAR ago my Brazilian mobile phone stopped working properly. The problem was not the device, but the network. Despite being switched on and a good signal showing, calls would be routed to voicemail—and the voicemail only arrive in my inbox several hours later. Emails arrived sporadically. Often I was unable to make calls myself. When I did manage to talk to someone I could barely hear them. Calls would break up and end abruptly.

Asking around I discovered that many of my Brazilian friends who were with the same network, TIM, were having the same problems. One had gone into a shop to complain. Oh, we sold too many contracts this year, the sales assistant said blithely, and now the network is always overloaded. She estimated it would take “a few years” for the infrastructure to catch up with the glut of new customers.

Since I could not wait that long—and was paying through the nose—I decided to move the three numbers I use (mine, an assistant’s and one for visiting colleagues) to Vivo, the company that was generally agreed to be the most reliable (though even more expensive than TIM). That was the start of what I have come to think of as my Brazilian Telecoms Saga. It is still not over. I also have Brazilian Visa and Household-Shipment sagas, but it is my miserable tale of repeated visits to phone shops, hours on hold waiting to talk to call centres and mystery bills that I think best illustrates what is blandly called the custo Brasil, or “Brazil cost”. This is the combination of high cost, low quality and sheer annoyingness that makes doing business in this country such a soul-destroying chore.

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