April 25, 2019 / 1:09 PM / in 25 days

UPDATE 1-Brazil inflation in mid-April rises to highest in two years

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By Jamie McGeever

BRASILIA, April 25 (Reuters) - Brazilian consumer price inflation rose to its highest in two years in mid-April, led by price increases in the transport and food and drink sectors, government statistics agency IBGE said on Thursday.

The rise in consumer prices, above economists’ estimates for both the monthly and annual measures, may soon put to the test a forecast by central bank policymakers that inflation will peak in April or May before drifting toward target later in the year.

Consumer prices rose by 0.72 percent in the month to mid-April and 4.71 percent in 12 months, IBGE said. The median estimates in a Reuters poll of economists was for increases of 0.69 percent and 4.66 percent, respectively.

Transport costs rose by 1.31 percent on the month, and food and drink prices rose 0.92 percent. Communications was the only one of nine sectors covered by IBGE to register lower prices in the month to mid-April, although the drop was only 0.05 percent.

The central bank has kept its official 2019 inflation forecast at 4.00 percent. Economic growth is sluggish, consumer confidence is beginning to slide and unemployment is high and rising — all of which points to weak price pressures.

Still, Brazil’s exchange rate has weakened, with the real hovering close to 4.00 per dollar, and uncertainty over the government’s fiscal reform agenda is deepening. Both represent upward inflationary risks.

The real was little changed at 3.9930 per dollar after the mid-April inflation data was released on Thursday, while interest rate futures were higher, indicating a one-in-three chance of a rate hike over the next year. (Reporting by Jamie McGeever; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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