(Adds report on Rousseff inviting banker to take post)
By Brian Winter
SAO PAULO, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is “close” to naming a new finance minister, a government official said on Wednesday, a pick that will help define whether she takes a more market-friendly approach to the struggling economy or doubles down on leftist policies in her second term.
Brazilian newspaper Valor Economico reported on Wednesday evening that Rousseff had invited Banco Bradesco SA Chief Executive Officer Luiz Carlos Trabuco to head the finance ministry. A spokesman for the bank declined to comment, and a press official at the presidential palace was not immediately available.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, declined to say exactly when the decision would be announced or who would be chosen to replace departing Finance Minister Guido Mantega.
“It’s probably the most important decision she’ll make for the rest of her presidency,” the official said, explaining why Rousseff has waited so long after winning re-election on Oct. 26 to announce the pick.
Some investors have speculated the announcement could come as soon as Wednesday.
Rousseff had said she would name Mantega’s successor sometime after returning from a summit last week in Australia. She came back on Monday, and spent most of Tuesday huddled with her closest aide, Chief of Staff Aloizio Mercadante.
Pressure has mounted on Rousseff to make the pick as a growing bribery scandal involving state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA threatens to overshadow her second term and hurt the already stagnant economy.
Most investors are hoping she will choose Henrique Meirelles, a former Wall Street executive and central bank president who would signal more emphasis on austerity and subduing high inflation.
Rousseff is also considering central bank chief Alexandre Tombini and Mantega’s former top aide, Nelson Barbosa, officials say. Both of them would signal greater policy continuity and probably disappoint some investors.
Brazil’s currency has fallen to nine-year lows in recent days, and the stock market has wobbled as investors speculate over who will take the job. (Editing by W Simon and Lisa Von Ahn)