(Adds bank statement and context)
By Alonso Soto
BRASILIA, July 16 (Reuters) - Brazil held interest rates unchanged for a second straight meeting on Wednesday but did not commit to keeping them stable for a long time as inflation remains high in Latin America’s top economy.
The unanimous decision by the bank’s monetary policy committee to hold the benchmark Selic rate at 11 percent was widely expected by the market after policymakers ended a year-long tightening cycle at their last meeting.
But the bank surprised many in the market by repeating in its statement that it kept rates on hold “at this moment.”
The statement was exactly the same as the one released after the bank’s last meeting on May 28.
In recent weeks, the central bank has hinted that it intended to keep rates on hold for some time, saying rates at current levels will bring inflation toward the 4.5 percent center of the official target. The bank has said that previous rate hikes started to curb prices.
Disappointing growth data will also likely keep the central bank, led by Alexandre Tombini, from raising interest rates for the rest of 2014 even though inflation is expected to stay high for the next two years (Additional reporting by Walter Brandimarte; Editing by Todd Benson, Andrew Hay and W Simon)