UPDATE 1-Brazil's inflation remains at 12-year highs in mid-February

martes 24 de febrero de 2015 08:36 GYT
 

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    BRASILIA, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Consumer prices in Brazil kept
rising at the fastest pace in 12 years in the month to
mid-February, driven up by a sharp increase in electricity
rates, fuel prices and school tuition, government data showed on
Tuesday.
    Brazil's IPCA-15 consumer price index rose 1.33
percent in the month to mid-February, up from 0.89 in the
previous month, government statistics agency IBGE said.
    In the 12 months through mid-February, the IPCA-15 index
 rose 7.36 percent, far above the government's 4.5
percent target and the 6.69 percent rate clocked in mid-January.
    Monthly inflation has topped 1 percent since the beginning
of the year, the highest levels since February 2003, mostly due
to pent-up price pressures after years of government attempts to
rein in inflation by delaying increases in fuel prices and other
costs under its direct control.
    Transportation prices rose 1.98 percent from mid-January
after Finance Minister Joaquim Levy raised taxes on gasoline and
diesel and local governments increased bus and subway fares.
    Housing prices jumped 2.17 percent in the month as
electricity rates soared, while education costs increased 5.98
percent, IBGE added. Food prices slowed their increase from
mid-January, rising 0.85 percent in the month. 
    High inflation has been one of Brazil's biggest obstacles to
faster economic growth in recent years as consumer confidence
has plunged to decade lows, industries cut back on investments
and interest rates climb back to double-digit levels.
    The central bank, which has pledged to lower inflation back
to 4.5 percent in 2016, is expected to raise its benchmark Selic
rate from 12.25 percent to 12.75 percent later this
year, according to the median forecasts of economists in a
central bank poll released on Monday.
    The IPCA-15 index had been expected to rise 1.29 percent,
according to the median forecast in a Reuters poll.
    
    Below is the result for each price category:    

                                 February   January
 - Food and beverages                0.85      1.45
 - Housing                           2.17      1.23
 - Household articles                0.62     -0.55
 - Apparel                          -0.89      0.51
 - Transport                         1.98      0.75
 - Health and personal care          0.39      0.38
 - Personal expenses                 1.22      1.39
 - Education                         5.98      0.30
 - Communication                     0.28     -0.04
                                                   
 - IPCA-15                           1.33      0.89
 
    

 (Reporting by Silvio Cascione)