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The Brazilian government is right to step in to reduce volatility in the foreign exchange market, according to the president of the government-run national development bank, or BNDES.
"The government has to mitigate the increased volatility in the currency, this week when the [dollar] hit BRL2.10 the government stepped in to the market to prevent volatility," Luciano Coutinho told reporters after a meeting of business leaders at the National Confederation of Industries, or CNI. "It's part of the game. All the central banks step into the market to avoid excessive volatility."
Brazil's currency has been caught up in a wave of volatility associated with fears about the European sovereign-debt crisis, and the real sold off sharply, touching a weak point of BRL2.10 per dollar earlier this week. Since late last week, the central bank has been selling dollar swap contracts, and the currency has since recovered much of its losses. Friday at 1556 GMT the real was trading at BRL1.9962.
Meanwhile, the official said that changes made on Thursday to rules governing lending to Brazilian mining bellwether Vale SA (VALE, VALE5.BR) were "normal" for a company of that size. It doesn't mean that lending to Vale is going to rise significantly, Coutinho said.
With the change, Brazil's government included Vale alongside oil and gas heavyweight Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PBR, PETR4.BR) and electric power company Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA (ELET6.BR) as special beneficiaries of BNDES lending.
Coutinho said that despite the ongoing euro-zone crisis and global uncertainty, investment decisions in Brazil are being maintained. He said he's optimistic that investments will grow more than private-sector economists predict this year.
The BNDES is still on track to lend 150 billion Brazilian reais ($75 billion) this year, Coutinho said.
-By Rogerio Jelmayer, Dow Jones Newswires; +55 11 3544 7071; firstname.lastname@example.org
(Matthew Cowley contributed to this article.)