UPDATE 1-Brazil central bank's delay in announcing swap auction weighs on real

Wed Oct 16, 2013 8:07pm EDT

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RIO DE JANEIRO Oct 16 (Reuters) - Brazil's real trimmed its gains to close only modestly stronger on Wednesday as a delay in the announcement of an expected swap auction by the central bank triggered speculation that policymakers were reviewing their program of daily currency interventions.

Brazil has been auctioning as many as 10,000 currency swaps on Mondays through Thursdays as part of a $60 billion intervention program designed to provide investors with protection against a possible depreciation of the real.

Doubts about the swap offering increased, however, when the central bank failed to announce, before markets closed on Wednesday, the details of the contracts that would be sold on the following day.

The bank usually issues a statement with such details around 2:30 p.m. local time (1730 GMT) on the day prior to the sale. This time, however, that statement was only released after 8 p.m., when the bank announced it would sell on Thursday 10,000 traditional swap contracts maturing on March 5, 2014.

That came too late to ease the pressure on the Brazilian currency, however. After rallying over 1 percent to a four-month high of 2.1551 per dollar during the session, the real closed only 0.2 percent stronger at 2.1735, lagging other Latin American currencies.

Although many investors believe the government is not completely comfortable with the recent strength of the currency, central bank chief Alexandre Tombini has repeatedly said that the current intervention program is working as expected and will last until the end of the year at least.

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