(Adds decision statement, context)
By Alonso Soto
BRASILIA, Sept 3 (Reuters) - Brazil held interest rates steady for the third straight time on Wednesday, shrugging off pressure to help an economy that fell into recession just weeks before a heated presidential election.
The central bank’s monetary policy committee, known as Copom, unanimously decided to keep its benchmark Selic rate at 11 percent, as had been widely expected by both the market and analysts.
In a statement, the central bank said it will evaluate the economic and inflation outlook to decide its next step, but removed the phrase “at this moment,” which was previously interpreted to mean policymakers could raise rates.
The bank has signaled in recent weeks it plans to hold rates stable for some time to allow for past increases in borrowing costs to ease inflation, which remains at the 6.5 percent ceiling of the official target.
The first recession in five years has raised pressure on the central bank to do more to reactivate an economy that has been stuck in a rut since 2011.
The bank has eased reserve requirements to bolster credit, but kept interest rates at more than two-year highs to counter high inflation and avoid any criticism of undue intervention before a presidential vote in October. (Reporting by Alonso Soto, editing by G Crosse and Dan Grebler)