DJ Brazilian Real Strengthens Past BRL2 Per Dollar On Central Bank Action
SAO PAULO, May 25, 2012 (Dow Jones Commodities News Select via Comtex) --The Brazilian real strengthened in intraday trading Friday after repeated interventions by the central bank reinforced the outlook the government won't let the real weaken much past BRL2.05 to the dollar.
After opening at BRL2.0253 to the dollar, stronger than its previous close at BRL2.0402, the real continued to strengthen to BRL1.9969 per dollar, breaking past the mark of BRL2 per dollar for the first time since last Thursday, according to Tullett Prebon via Factset.
Brazil's currency has been weakening since hitting a record of BRL1.53 to the dollar last July as the government stepped up measures to cool inflows that had been driving up the currency. With new or higher taxes on speculative inflows, the government hoped to reverse the currency's climb, which had been eroding the competitiveness of Brazil's exports.
But in recent days, investors have been fleeing the real on concern Greece will exit the euro zone and throw the global economy into disarray again. As investors scrambled to buy dollars in a market that had been restricted in size due to the higher Brazilian taxes, the real weakened at a rapid pace. Since the start of May, the real weakened more than 7%, to close at BRL2.0589 Tuesday.
That rapid slide led the central bank to resume dollar swap auctions, carrying out at least one a day every day this week. Swap contract auctions typically support the real against the American currency by giving investors the opportunity to exchange paper linked to interest rates for contracts indexed to the dollar.
The central bank carried out yet another auction early Friday morning, selling 698 million in contracts.
"The market here, in addition to being pressured by what's going on internationally, also relied on speculation in relation to where the central bank would intervene in the dollar," said Reginaldo Galhardo, fixed-income manager at brokerage Treviso Corretora in Sao Paulo. "They realized that weaker than 2.05 things got uncomfortable for the central bank."
With relatively calmer international markets Friday, that could give the real room to recover a bit more. International markets improved on expectations the European Central Bank could respond to rising fears of a chaotic Greek exit.
But with signs of slowing economic activity at home and prospects of more interest rate cuts next week, Brazil's real could have little support for a stronger rebound.
On Friday, the private Getulio Vargas Foundation, or FGV, said its consumer confidence index dropped to 127.1 points in May from 128.7 points in April. The drop followed two consecutive months of increase, due to tepid economy activity.
In response to flagging growth, investors now expect the bank to cut the benchmark Selic by at least half a percentage point Wednesday, bringing the rate to the lowest level ever, surpassing the 8.75% record low set in 2009.
-By Paulo Winterstein, Dow Jones Newswires; 55-11-3544-7073; email@example.com
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