UPDATE 1-Brazil consumer prices rise 0.79 pct in month to mid-December
(Adds breakdown of price rises, target range context) SAO PAULO, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Brazil's annual inflation rate rose unexpectedly in mid-December as food and transportation prices accelerated, though the broader price index remained within the official target range. Consumer prices rose 6.46 percent in the 12 months through mid-December, statistics agency IBGE said on Friday. Market consensus in a Reuters poll was for the 12-month rate to remain unchanged from the previous month at 6.42 percent. The top end of the government's inflation target range is 6.5 percent. When compared with mid-November, prices rose 0.79 percent , up from 0.38 percent in the previous month, according to the IPCA-15 price index. Transportation prices rose 1.59 percent in mid-December, up from 0.20 percent in mid-November. Food prices also sped their pace of increase, rising 0.94 percent compared with 0.56 percent in November. Inflation in Brazil has remained high because of hefty government spending, a tight labor market and a weaker currency, which drove up the cost of imported goods. The central bank raised interest rates by 50 basis points to 11.75 percent earlier this month, stepping up monetary tightening to battle inflation and reinforce President Dilma Rousseff's efforts to increase investor confidence. While the bank signaled in the minutes of its last rate-setting meeting that it could slow the pace of monetary tightening, many investors have shrugged off the guidance following a sharp drop in the value of Brazil's real against the dollar in recent days. Below is the result for each price category: November November December - Food and beverages 0.56 0.94 - Housing 0.56 0.71 - Household articles 0.31 0.05 - Apparel 0.42 0.44 - Transport 0.20 1.59 - Health and personal care 0.36 0.46 - Personal expenses 0.37 0.71 - Education 0.18 0.10 - Communication -0.21 -0.08 - IPCA-15 0.38 0.79 (Reporting by Asher Levine Editing by W Simon)
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