UPDATE 1-Investment flows into Brazil remain 'strong' so far in March -central bank

Wed Mar 12, 2014 2:28pm EDT

SAO PAULO, March 12 (Reuters) - Investment inflows into Brazil remain "strong" so far in March, central bank president Alexandre Tombini said on Wednesday, adding that $9.2 billion entered the country in the form of portfolio and foreign direct investments in February.

Tombini told attendants at an event in São Paulo sponsored by Goldman Sachs Group Inc that the pace of Brazil's economic expansion this year should be similar to 2013's growth rate. He said that the impact of monetary policy is "cumulative" and "comes with a lag time," adding policies at the current moment must stay "specially vigilant" of inflation.

Steady foreign investment has helped cover Brazil's growing current account deficit, alleviating pressure on the foreign exchange market. Brazil's trade deficit has increased recently as the appetite for imports, especially fuel, remains strong.

Rising interests rates have made Brazil more attractive to foreign investors by offering a higher return. The central bank is widely expected to raise its benchmark interest for a ninth straight time in April to 11.00 percent, the highest since early 2012.

The rate hikes started in April last year as policymakers struggled to lower inflation expectations towards the midpoint of their target range, or 4.5 percent.

Consumer prices as measured by the benchmark IPCA index rose more than expected last month, edging up 5.68 percent in the 12 months through February, Brazil's statistics agency IBGE said earlier on Wednesday.