Brazilian inflation eased in February for the first time in four months, with further declines in the 12-month rate likely in the coming months, the Brazilian Census Bureau (IBGE) said Wednesday. February monthly inflation weighed in at 0.9 percent, down from the alarming 1.27 percent registered in January. The 12-month rate, as of February, declined to 10.36 percent from 10.71 percent as of January. February price hikes were led by food and education, with housing and fuels lagging. According to IBGE economists, monthly and annual inflation rates will continue to decline in the coming months. January and February increases in health and education costs reflected annual hikes in insurance premiums and school tuitions. Food costs, meanwhile, are likely to ease as the annual grain and oilseeds harvest gets underway in March. Fuel costs are likely to remain steady, reflecting the decline in international oil prices. An easing in inflationary pressures could convince the Brazilian Central Bank to order interest rate cuts in the second half of the year, according to many economists. The base interest rate is currently 14.25 percent.
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