BRASILIA, July 22 (Reuters) - For the first time in nearly five months, economists did not cut their economic growth forecast for Brazil, a central bank survey showed on Monday, snapping a run of 20 consecutive weeks of downward revisions and indicating that the economy may have bottomed out.
That said, the increase last week in the average forecast to 0.82% growth this year from 0.81% the week before was negligible, and economists lowered their projections for the benchmark Selic interest rate next year to a new low of 5.75%.
The central bank’s weekly ‘FOCUS’ survey of around 100 financial market participants shows that private sector forecasts are now bang in line with the government and central bank, who both cut their 2019 outlooks to 0.8% recently.
The average 2020 growth forecast was unchanged from last week’s low of 2.10%. As recently as March, economists were predicting 2.50% growth this year and 2.80% next year, according to the FOCUS survey.
The apparent stabilization in the outlook comes after Brazil’s lower house of Congress overwhelmingly backed a landmark pension reform bill that aims to save the Treasury around 1 trillion reais ($267 billion) over the next decade, boost investment and bring the anemic economy back to life.
Economists also hope this is the first step in a series of economic and fiscal reforms, including tax reform, that will boost sentiment, investment and growth.
Social security reform is expected to give the central bank cover to cut interest rates, perhaps starting as early as the next policy meeting at the end of this month. Economists kept their end-2019 Selic forecast at 5.50% for the third week in a row, but lowered their end-2020 outlook to 5.75%, the FOCUS survey showed.
Other notable developments in the latest FOCUS survey were average end-2019 inflation forecasts falling to 3.78% from 3.82% the week before, and outlook for the real strengthening to 3.75 to the U.S. dollar from 3.80.
For the full survey, click on the following link:
($1 = 3.7450 reais)
Reporting by Jamie McGeever; Editing by