October 25, 2016 / 5:27 PM / 2 years ago

Brazil financial inflows spike ahead of amnesty program deadline

BRASILIA/SAO PAULO, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Brazil saw nearly $1.6 billion in net financial inflows between Wednesday and Friday of last week, a senior central bank officials said, as flows spiked ahead of the end-month expiry of an amnesty for the repatriation of irregular assets held abroad.

The head of economic research at Brazil’s central bank, Tulio Maciel, told reporters on Tuesday that net financial inflows amounted to $740 million in the first 21 days of October as strong inflows at the end of the period offset sharp outflows in the beginning of the month.

The figure, which includes portfolio investment and FDI but excludes trade, compares to a $3 billion deficit in the same period of September.

Brazil has been bleeding capital for months as a deep recession and a sweeping corruption scandal dampened the allure of interest rates that are among the highest in the world.

Many traders had expected foreign investors to rush back to Brazil following the impeachment of leftist President Dilma Rousseff in May, but those inflows failed to materialize.

Latin America’s largest economy saw almost $50 billion in financial outflows this year by Oct. 14, central bank data shows.

Many analysts expect that trend to pause as Brazilians rush to beat the amnesty programme’s Oct. 31 deadline.

The bill grants pardon to wealthy Brazilians holding undeclared assets abroad in exchange for a fine. The speaker of Brazil’s lower house of Congress said last week the program is expected to collect 80 billion reais ($25.6 billion) in fines.

Assets declared under the amnesty do not necessarily have to be repatriated to Brazil.

Investor bets on strong inflows helped drive the real about 4 percent higher so far this month.

Late on Monday, Brazil’s central bank said it would adjust its intervention policy due to the “possibility of atypical flows of capital or excessive foreign exchange oscillations.”

The central bank has about $30 billion reais in traditional currency swaps, contracts which function like dollar sales to investors for future delivery, on its books.

It has been reducing its exposure from over $100 billion late last year by selling on a daily basis reverse currency swaps, which work like future dollar purchases.

But the bank said it will allow the $3.3 billion in traditional currency swaps maturing on Nov. 1 to expire normally, instead of cancelling them in advance through reverse currency swaps as it had done in the previous months.

This should offset strong inflows expected for Oct. 31, the last day of the repatriation program, traders said, as investors purchase dollars in the market to offset the maturing contracts. ($1 = 3.1201 reais) (Reporting by Marcela Ayres and Bruno Federowski; Editing by Daniel Flynn, Bernard Orr)

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