By Paulo Trevisani and Jeffrey T. Lewis

SÃO PAULO -- Brazil's central bank intensified the pace of its rate cuts Wednesday, as price increases continued to lose steam amid a fierce recession.

The bank's monetary committee, known as the Copom, cut the benchmark Selic rate to 13% from 13.75%, a larger cut than most economists expected. The bank's two previous rate cuts in this easing cycle were a quarter point each.

In a survey of 12 economists last week by The Wall Street Journal, nine forecast a half-point cut and the other three said they expected a 0.75-point reduction.

The bank began its easing cycle with two quarter-point cuts, one each in October and November.

In the postmeeting statement Wednesday, the bank said inflation is slowing more quickly than expected, a change that is "compatible" with faster monetary easing.

The bank also said that economic activity has been weaker than expected, and that the country's economic recovery could be delayed even more.

Write to Paulo Trevisani at and Jeffrey T. Lewis at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 11, 2017 15:58 ET (20:58 GMT)

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