Bank of America Merrill Lynch cut its 2020 Brazilian economic growth outlook to 1.9% from 2.2%, and JP Morgan to 1.8% from 1.9%. Observers say the forecast is highly sensitive for President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration. Economy Minister Paulo Guedes and other officials have consistently said the government’s economic reforms and record low interest rates will deliver growth this year comfortably above 2%, with Guedes confident of 2.5%. JP Morgan said investment growth this year will now be lower at 5.0%, while exports will fall 0.5% compared with an earlier forecast of 0.5% expansion.
Real’s relentless decline continued on Thursday, falling below 4.50 per dollar for the first time ever. The Brazilian currency ended trading at new closing low of 4.4750 per dollar, meaning it has depreciated by more than 10% in just two months. Brazil’s central bank dipped into the currency derivatives market on Thursday for the fourth time this month, selling $1 billion of swaps contracts following Wednesday’s $500 million sale to slow or even reverse the real’s fall. Any relief from its interventions this month has so far proven fleeting.
Brazil’s state-controlled oil company Petrobras said it has started the sale process for its 51% stake in the gas unit Gaspetro and for its stakes in the Merluza and Lagosta oil fields in Brazil’s Santos basin, according to a securities filing. Gaspetro is a holding company owning stakes in 19 firms that operate in the Brazilian gas distribution business.
Brazilian mining company Vale SA has begun preparations for a potential fuel leak from the damaged iron ore carrier MV Stellar Banner, which is stranded off the Brazilian northern coast with 4,000 tones of fuel aboard. Vale said in a statement it requested Petrobras appropriate ships to deal with the possible leak and has arranged for the dispatch of oceanic buoys to the area. The MV Stellar Banner, owned by South Korea’s Polaris, had only started its trip to China carrying iron ore when it was stranded.
Brazil’s Agriculture Ministry will allow for agrochemicals awaiting regulatory approval to receive licenses automatically, potentially allowing new pesticides to reach market faster, according to new rules published in the government gazette with effect on April 1. If the ministry fails to review applications for new chemicals to be licensed within 60 days, the products will automatically be approved, although they will still need to receive separate approvals by the Health and Environment Ministries before going on the market.