UPDATE 1-Brazil central bank flags benchmark rate as anti-inflation tool
By Luciana Otoni
CURITIBA, Brazil Feb 13 (Reuters) - Brazilian central bank director Carlos Hamilton Araujo on Thursday underscored that interest rates were the bank's tool to curtail high inflation, apparently signaling more monetary policy tightening ahead.
Araujo, the bank's director of economic policy, said at an event in the southern city of Curitiba that consumer inflation has remained high, resisting a drop.
The central bank has raised its Selic rate 325 basis points to 10.50 percent since April in a bid to tame a surge in prices that threatens to cool an already fragile economic growth. The bank is expected to raise rates once again on Feb. 26.
Recent market volatility buffeting emerging nations has weakened the Brazilian real currency, raising pressure on inflation that remains at the upper end of the official range of between 2.5 percent and 6.5 percent. A weaker real raises the value of imports.
"The Selic rate is the instrument that the bank has at hand to deal with inflation," Araujo told reporters, adding that the country is well prepared to withstand global markets volatility.
He said that a slowdown in inflation in January curbed inflation expectations, but that they remain high and a "challenge for monetary policy."
Another factor that could influence monetary policy is whether the government of President Dilma Rousseff can reduce public spending after a severe deterioration of the fiscal accounts, analysts say. Continuación...