UPDATE 1-Brazil's Caixa cuts interest rates on loans, offers grace period

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SAO PAULO, March 19 (Reuters) - Brazilian state-owned lender Caixa Economica Federal said on Thursday said it is cutting interest rates on loans and is offering clients a grace period of 60 days.

The move is part of the Brazilian government’s efforts to help economic activity amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Caixa said in a statement that it is offering lower interest rates for both consumers and companies. For small companies, the interest rate reduction may reach 45%, it said.

Brazil’s largest mortgage lender also said its clients will be able to pause home loan payments for up to two months.

On Wednesday, the lender also announced 100 billion reais ($19.47 billion) in new credit lines for individual and corporate clients.

$1 = 5.1373 reais Reporting by Carolina Mandl Editing by Paul Simao