Brazil's Mantega rules out gasoline price rise

Tue May 15, 2012 10:15am EDT

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* State-run Petrobras selling at a loss to curb inflation

* Brazil's currency at weakest level since 2009

* Mantega says "there will be no hikes"

BRASÍLIA, May 15 (Reuters) - Brazil's government-controlled prices for gasoline will not be raised even after the country's currency hit its weakest level since 2009, Finance Minister Guido Mantega said on Tuesday.

"There will be no (price) hikes," Mantega told reporters as he arrived at the ministry's offices in Brasília.

Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobras has been importing gasoline and diesel at international prices and selling the fuels at a loss on the local market, where the government controls prices.

This has helped 12-month inflation rates fall from six-year highs, paving the way for aggressive interest rate cuts by the central bank as it tries to stimulate economic growth.

Energy Minister Edison Lobão said on May 3 that gasoline and diesel prices would be raised only when international oil prices hit $130 a barrel. U.S. crude prices traded at $94.85 a barrel on Tuesday.

Brazil's currency, the real, hit the 2 per dollar level for the second straight session on Tuesday, its weakest level since 2009, on global concerns about a possible Greek exit from the euro zone.

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