* Brazil expected to grow 3.96 pct in 2013
* Market forecasts contrast with minister's optimism
* 2013 and 2013 inflation estimates revised down
SAO PAULO, Nov 19 Economists cut their forecasts
for Brazil's 2013 economic growth for the first time since
August, a weekly central bank survey showed on Monday.
Brazil is now expected to grow 3.96 percent in 2013, the
survey showed, down from an estimated growth of 4.00 percent in
the previous survey.
Market forecasts contrast with Finance Minister Guido
Mantega's view that Latin America's largest economy may grow
above 4 percent in 2013 as investment picks up following $22
billion in tax breaks.
He said last week that the economy likely grew at an
annualized rate of between 3.5 and 4 percent in the third
quarter of this year, when it would have expanded 1 percent from
the second quarter.
Consumer inflation over a 12-month period is expected to end
this year at 5.45 percent, slightly down from 5.46 percent seen
in the previous survey. In 2013, it is seen at 5.39 percent,
down from 5.40 percent forecast a week before. The government
targets inflation at 4.5 percent, with a tolerance margin of 2
The forecasts represent the median of predictions from about
100 financial institutions surveyed weekly by the central bank
Forecasts for the central bank benchmark interest rate
remained unchanged, with analysts seeing it stable at its
current record low of 7.25 percent through the end of 2013.
Policymakers have insisted that interest rates should remain
low for a "prolonged period" because the recent increase in
consumer prices was mainly driven by external factors such as
rising food prices.
Consumer prices are expected to rise 0.50 percent in
November over October, unchanged from the prior week's survey.