* Brazil's central bank cuts 2012 growth forecast to 1 pct
* Central bank trims 2012 inflation view to 4.8 pct
By Silvio Cascione and Luciana Otoni
SAO PAULO, Dec 20 Brazil's central bank
acknowledged on Thursday that the economy will grow very little
in 2012 and reinforced the case for a long period of low
interest rates by forecasting that inflation should ease next
The bank lowered its 2012 economic growth forecast to 1.0
percent from 1.6 percent previously, matching market estimates,
according to its latest quarterly inflation report.
The bank also lowered its 2013 inflation forecast to 4.8
percent from 4.9 percent previously, contrasting with market
forecasts projecting inflation at 5.42 percent.
"The report didn't surprise me. It underlines the idea of
stable interest rates at 7.25 percent for a long period," said
Carlos Kawall, chief economist at J. Safra, in Sao Paulo.
The government targets inflation at 4.5 percent, with a
tolerance margin of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
The bank led by Alexandre Tombini said that risks to global
financial stability remained high, but Brazil's domestic demand
should continue to support economic growth.
The central bank cut interest rates 10 straight times since
August 2011 to a record low of 7.25 percent to help President
Dilma Rousseff in her efforts to revive economic growth.
Brazil, one of the world's most dynamic economies in the
previous decade, has been struggling with several bottlenecks
after years of chronically low investment levels. Clogged roads,
lack of skilled labor and a complex tax system have dragged on
local manufacturers, already fighting against a global slowdown.
Brazil's government on Wednesday announced further measures
to boost growth, such as extending payroll tax cuts to retailers
and renewing tax breaks on home appliances.
Yields on interest rate futures fell across the board , suggesting traders see a lower probability of
interest rate hikes in the years ahead.
However, sticky inflation and a fuel price hike announced on
Wednesday by Finance Minister Guido Mantega have raised worries
about the bank's ability to keep borrowing costs stable for a
long period as it estimates.
"Forecasts for 2013 inflation are not considering the
increase in gasoline prices. I think the government will try to
offset this rise by lowering taxes, otherwise this is going to
have a reasonable impact," said Eduardo Velho, chief economist
at brokerage Planner, in Sao Paulo.
Consumer prices rose at their fastest monthly pace since May
2011 in the month to mid-December, data showed on Wednesday.
Trailing 12-month inflation was at 5.78 percent, and has
remained above the midpoint of the government's target range at
4.5 percent for over two years.
The central bank's estimate for 2012 inflation was revised
up to 5.7 percent from 5.2 percent previously.
The bank also said Brazil's economy should rebound next
year, with estimated growth of 3.3 percent in the 12-month
period through the third quarter of 2013.
One year ago, the central bank said Brazil's economy would
grow 3.5 percent in 2012, with an inflation rate of 4.7 percent.