UPDATE 2-Brazil's inflation slows in mid-July, but remains high
(Adds analyst comment, World Cup impact) By Silvio Cascione BRASILIA, July 22 (Reuters) - Consumer prices in Brazil rose less than expected in the month to mid-July as food prices and airfares eased, but 12-month inflation still climbed to the upper limit of the official target, government data showed on Tuesday. The IPCA-15 index rose 0.17 percent in the month to mid-July, down from 0.47 in mid-June, statistics agency IBGE said. The index had been expected to rise 0.20 percent. In the 12 months through mid-July, consumer prices rose 6.51 percent, from 6.41 percent in mid-June. The top end of the central bank's target range is 6.5 percent. Stubbornly high inflation has contributed to slowing economic growth, now at a near standstill. It also has eroded the credibility of the central bank's efforts to curb inflationary pressures and poses a threat to President Dilma Rousseff's campaign for re-election in October. "Price increases are usually small in the middle of the year so we should not give too much importance to the monthly print. Inflation remains worrisome," said Natalia Cotarelli, an economist with Banco Indusval & Partners. Yields on interest rate futures <0#2DIJ:> on Tuesday were little changed as traders stuck to bets that the central bank will refrain from raising its benchmark Selic interest rate to avoid hurting Brazil's already sluggish economy. Some investors see the chance of an interest rate cut as soon as September as the economy nears a recession. But a member of the government's economic team last week told Reuters that it is too early for that. The bank lifted the Selic rate for nine meetings in a row until April to 11 percent, and has said recently that the rate increases are yet to take full effect on consumer prices. The bank sees inflation near the 6.5 percent mark for some months ahead, and forecasts consumer prices will start to ease more sharply only next year. The World Cup, which ended of July 13, had a mixed impact on inflation. On the one hand, hotel rates jumped 28.6 percent. But airfares retreated after the beginning of the tournament on June 12, having risen beforehand. As a result, transportation costs overall fell 0.85 percent in the month to mid-July. Below is the result for each price category: July June - Food and beverages -0.03 0.21 - Housing 0.48 0.29 - Household articles 0.66 1.00 - Apparel 0.00 0.67 - Transport -0.85 0.50 - Health and personal care 0.52 0.67 - Personal expenses 1.74 1.09 - Education -0.07 0.13 - Communication -0.10 0.00 - IPCA-15 0.17 0.47 (Reporting by Silvio Cascione; Editing by Nick Zieminski and W Simon)
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