The stagnation of the Brazilian domestic economy in the second half of the year led the market analysts consulted last Friday, November 25, by Brazil’s Central Bank (BC) to lower even further their forecasts for this year’s growth in industrial production.

    According to the analysts, this growth, which was expected to be 3.69% in last week’s survey, will now come to 3.56%. They held to their prediction of 4.50% for the increase in industrial production in 2006.

    Consequently, the outlook for growth in this year’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – the total of all wealth produced in the country – also declined somewhat, from last week’s 3.09% to 3%.

    The survey’s estimate of 4.50% for next year’s GDP growth remained unchanged, as did the analysts’ forecast of 51.60% for this year’s ratio between government debt and the GDP. Their forecast for next year’s debt/GDP ratio rose slightly, from 50.70% to 50.75%.

    The BC survey, published in Monday’s, November 28, edition of the Focus Bulletin, maintained its estimate of US$ 16 billion for this year’s influx of foreign direct investments in the productive sector and raised its estimate for this year’s trade balance (exports minus imports) from US$ 42.40 billion to US$ 42.76 billion, while maintaining the estimate of US$ 35.40 billion for the trade surplus in 2006.

    The higher forecast for this year’s trade surplus is also reflected in the prognosis for this year’s current account balance, which involves all the country’s foreign commercial and financial transactions.

    The previous estimate predicted a US$ 13 billion surplus. This was raised to US$ 13.45 billion. The outlook for next year’s surplus also improved, from US$ 6.30 billion to US$ 6.50 billion.

    These projections are premised on a scenario in which the government’s annualized benchmark interest rate (Selic), which currently stands at 18.50%, falls to 18% in December and is gradually lowered to 15.50% during the course of 2006, and in which the exchange rate of the US dollar does not exceed 2.25 reais this year, nor 2.45 reais next year.

    Agência Brasil

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