Market disruption would take Brazil hike cycle over 12.75%, says central bank chief

A man walks in front the Central Bank headquarters building in Brasilia

By Marcela Ayres

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s central bank chief Roberto Campos Neto said on Friday that ongoing monetary tightening will likely end with benchmark rates at 12.75% unless unpredicted market disruptions change the policymakers’ flight plan, which he sees as improbable.

Speaking at the Central Reserve Bank of Peru Centenary Conference, Campos Neto took a more direct stance after noting on Thursday that a further interest rate hike in June was not the most likely scenario.

Earlier this month, the central bank raised interest rates by 100 basis points to 11.75%, indicating another increase of the same size in May to tame persistent double-digit inflation in Latin America’s largest country.

“We started the hiking process a long time ago, we think most likely we will end at 12.75%, which puts interest rates in a restrictive camp for Brazil,” he said.

According to Campos Neto, the door was left open for an eventual rate adjustment in June on “very high uncertainty” about the extent of the crisis after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which prompted inflationary pressures with a surge on commodities prices.

But he stressed that a policy reassessment would only occur if the conflict escalated “a lot” or an unpredicted market disruption generated a new wave of uncertainty.

“At the present moment we don’t think that is the most likely outcome,” he added, stressing that a spike in inflation is already on the radar.

He said consumer prices’ growth will peak in April, reaching 11% in the 12-month period by then.

Inflation in the 12 months to mid-March climbed to 10.79%, official figures showed on Friday, beating market expectations and leading some analysts to change their forecasts for the coming months.

(Reporting by Marcela Ayres; Editing by Alistair Bell)