Brazil’s Oi posts loss; debt soars with Portugal Telecom

August 6, 2014

Brad Haynes and Guillermo Parra-Bernal – Reuters, 8/6/2014

Grupo Oi SA, Brazil’s biggest fixed-line telecommunications operator, posted a second-quarter net loss on Wednesday, as revenue stagnated and payroll and debt-servicing costs rose amid a troubled merger with its largest shareholder.

The company posted a quarterly loss of 221 million reais ($97 million), its first results since combining assets with Portugal Telecom SGPS SA in April. The result was larger than the combined shortfall of 124 million reais the companies would have posted together a year ago, according to a securities filing.

Revenue in Brazil slipped 2 percent from a year earlier to 6.94 billion reais. Revenue from Portugal fell 3.4 percent in euros, but a currency swing boosted results in Brazilian reais by nearly 10 percent. As a result total revenue was little changed at 9.02 billion reais.

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Brazilian Real Weakens to Two-Month Low on Fed Tapering Concern

August 5, 2014

Filipe Pacheco – Bloomberg Businessweek, 8/5/2014

Brazil’s real declined to a two-month low on speculation that evidence of U.S. economic strength will spur the Federal Reserve to begin raising borrowing costs faster than expected.

The real fell 0.7 percent to 2.2746 per dollar at 11:54 a.m. in Sao Paulo, the weakest on a closing basis since June 4. The drop was the biggest among 16 major currencies tracked by Bloomberg after South Africa’s rand. Swap rates, a gauge of expectations for interest-rate moves, increased 17 basis points, or 0.17 percentage point, to 11.76 percent on contracts maturing in January 2017.

“Stronger numbers are coming from the U.S. economy, and any indication that monetary policy may change there before markets expected brings concern to emerging-market investors, and the currency is impacted,” Sidnei Nehme, executive director at NGO Corretora in Sao Paulo, said in a telephone interview. “The real tends to trade closer to 2.30 per dollar for now than toward the 2.25 level.”

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Real Heads for Weekly Drop as Brazil Refrains From Swap Rollover

August 1, 2014

Filipe Pacheco – Bloomberg, 8/1/2014

Brazil’s real was headed for its biggest weekly decline since January as the central bank refrained from starting a rollover of foreign-exchange swap contracts supporting the currency.

The real declined 1.3 percent to 2.2590 per U.S. dollar this week, the most since Jan. 24, after advancing 0.2 percent today as of 3:42 p.m. in Sao Paulo. Swap rates, a gauge of expectations for interest-rate moves, increased 11 basis points, or 0.11 percentage point, to 11.60 percent on contracts due in January 2017. They have climbed 36 basis points since July 25.

While the central bank sold $198.7 million of currency swaps today to bolster the real and limit import price increases, it allowed the remaining $2.81 billion of contracts maturing at the beginning of the month to expire and hasn’t called an auction to extend the maturity on $10.07 billion in swaps maturing Sept. 1. The sale of swaps has helped push the currency up 4.3 percent this year.

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Brazil Real Intervention Out of Sync With Slowdown, IMF Says

July 30, 2014

Sebastian Boyd – Bloomberg, 7/29/2014

The International Monetary Fund said Brazilian central bank President Alexandre Tombini shouldn’t shore up the real as Latin America’s largest economy stalls and inflation accelerates.

Adjusting for inflation, Brazil’s currency was 5 percent to 15 percent stronger than “implied by fundamentals and desirable policies” in 2013, IMF economists wrote in a research report published today. The real has appreciated 5.9 percent this year against the dollar while inflation accelerated to a 13-month high and economic growth slowed.

The central bank said last month it was extending through the end of 2014 a currency intervention program aimed at helping to boost the real and curb prices for imports. After nine consecutive increases in the target lending rate, policy makers held it at 11 percent on July 16 for a second straight meeting. The central bank didn’t return phone and e-mail messages seeking comment today.

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Central Bank of Brazil lowers bank reserve requirements in bid to boost liquidity

July 29, 2014

Arvid Ahlund – Central Banking, 7/28/2014

The Central Bank of Brazil (CBB) has lowered reserve requirements for banks in a move to inject 45 billion reais ($20 billion) into the country’s stagnating economy ahead of presidential elections later this year.

The CBB, which raised interest rates by 375 basis points to 11% in the year to April to fight above-target inflation, said on Friday the new measure “aimed at improving the distribution of liquidity in the economy” following a “recent moderation in credit” and a “decrease in the level of risk in the financial system”.

The change effectively allows banks to use as much 50% of the reserves it holds against deposits on new loans or the acquisition of loan portfolios, potentially translating into 30 billion reais ($13.4 billion) in additional credit creation.

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Brazil’s Real Falls as Ukraine Turmoil Saps Emerging-Market Bid

July 29, 2014

Paula Sambo and Filipe Pacheco – Bloomberg Businessweek, 7/29/2014

Brazil’s real dropped the most among major Latin American currencies as turmoil in Ukraine dried up demand for emerging-market assets.

The real declined 0.2 percent to 2.2279 per U.S. dollar at 9:42 a.m. in Sao Paulo. Swap rates, a gauge of expectations for interest-rate moves, increased six basis points, or 0.06 percentage point, to 11.33 percent on the contract maturing in January 2017.

Investors sought refuge in the dollar as the European Union and the U.S. prepared new sanctions against Russia while President Vladimir Putin’s administration formulated its response to international pressure over the conflict in Ukraine.

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Brazil’s Longer-Term Swap Rates Rise on 2015 Inflation Outlook

July 28, 2014

Filipe Pacheco and Paula Sambo – Bloomberg, 7/28/2014

Brazil’s longer-term swap rates climbed as economists surveyed by the central bank raised their inflation forecasts for 2015, adding to speculation that policy makers will resume raising borrowing costs next year.

Swap rates on contracts maturing in January 2018 increased one basis point, or 0.01 percentage point, to 11.41 percent at 9:52 a.m. in Sao Paulo. The real was little changed at 2.2294 per U.S. dollar.

Economists increased their inflation forecast for 2015 to 6.21 percent from 6.12 percent a week earlier, according to the median of about 100 estimates in a central bank survey published today. President Dilma Rousseff is facing a combination of slower economic growth and above-target inflation as the October election approaches.

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Brazil Economists Cut 2014 Growth Call for Ninth Straight Week

July 28, 2014

Matthew Malinowski – Bloomberg, 7/28/2014

Brazil economists reduced their 2014 growth forecast for the ninth consecutive week, as policy makers seek to spur demand without further stoking above-target inflation.

Brazil’s gross domestic product will expand 0.90 percent this year, compared with the previous week’s forecast of 0.97 percent, according to the July 25 central bank survey of about 100 analysts published today. The economists’ growth forecast has dropped by nearly half since their 1.63 percent estimate from May 23.

President Dilma Rousseff is torn between the fastest annual inflation in 13 months and weakening growth as she campaigns for re-election. The central bank said on July 24 its strategy does not contemplate a lower key rate as above-target consumer prices will remain resistant. The next day, policy makers announced they would loosen deposit requirements to free up 45 billion reais ($20.2 billion) in consumer credit.

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Economy In Gutter, Brazil More Expensive Than Europe

July 28, 2014

Kenneth Rapoza – Forbes, 7/27/2014

Brazil’s economy might be growing near zero, and it’s currency isn’t as strong as it was in the heyday of the U.S. housing bubble of 2008, but that hasn’t stopped the country from becoming more expensive than the entire euro zone. In fact, according to The Economist magazine’s latest edition of the Big Mac index, Brazil’s currency is overvalued, and is third behind mega rich nations like Norway and Switzerland.

Brazil is the most expensive emerging market nation, and the locals are feeling it.

According to the magazine’s Big Mac index, the Brazilian real is overvalued by 5.86% as of July 23, more so than it was in 2009.  The Brazilian real is worth R$2.23. But it used to be a lot stronger. In July of 2008, it hit a strong R$1.55.  Despite a weaker currency, Brazil’s cost of living is on the rise.  For those living there, it’s a cause of frustration.  This is still very much a country where roads flood in the rain in major cities like São Paulo, and World Cup and Olympic quality cities like Rio de Janeiro have a whopping 500,000+ living in squalor in hillside slums.  The views are nice, but the poverty, the crime, the violence and the lackluster government services to those stuck there remain a national embarrassment.

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Brazil to boost credit to counter economic slowdown

July 25, 2014

Walter Brandimarte – Reuters, 7/25/2014

Brazil’s central bank on Friday announced measures to boost credit in the country’s ailing economy, one week after keeping its benchmark interest rate at its highest level in over two years to fight inflation.

The bank said in a statement it was freeing up an estimated 30 billion reais ($13.5 billion) in the financial system through changes to banks’ reserve requirements.

The move “aims at improving the distribution of liquidity in the economy” given a recent slowdown in credit and relatively low levels of bad loans, the bank said.

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