UPDATE 1-Brazil annual inflation up modestly as food price gains ease

Wed May 21, 2014 8:39am EDT

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    BRASILIA, May 21 (Reuters) - Brazil's annual inflation rate
rose only slightly in mid-May, paving the way for the central
bank to stop raising interest rates at its monetary policy
meeting next week.
    Consumer prices as measured by the IPCA-15 price index
 rose 6.31 percent in the 12-month period through
mid-May, nearly unchanged from the 6.28 percent rate seen at the
end of April, government statistics agency IBGE
said on Wednesday.
    The index rose 0.58 percent from mid-April, broadly in line
with market expectations in a Reuters poll. 
    While the inflation rate remains very close to the 6.5
percent ceiling of the central bank's target range, the numbers
showed that a sharp increase in food prices has lost steam as
the government expected.
    Food prices rose 0.88 percent in the month through mid-May,
less than half the pace seen one month before.
    The sharp increase in food prices over the past few months
was a key reason for the central bank to extend the series of
interest rate hikes that took its benchmark Selic rate to a
two-year high of 11 percent. As food inflation moderates, many
economists expect the central bank to pause its rate-hiking
cycle at its upcoming May 27-28 meeting.
    Yields on interest rate futures were slightly down,
suggesting traders pared bets on an additional 25 basis-point
rate increase next week.
            
    Below is the result for each price category:    

                               April    May
 - Food and beverages          1.84     0.88
 - Housing                     0.58     1.19
 - Household articles          0.24     0.29
 - Apparel                     0.37     0.67
 - Transport                   0.54     -0.33
 - Health and personal care    0.69     1.20
 - Personal expenses           0.50     0.51
 - Education                   0.14     0.08
 - Communication               -0.61    0.17
                                        
 - IPCA-15                     0.78     0.58
 
    

 (Reporting by Silvio Cascione Editing by W Simon)
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