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Brazil finance minister says loss of investment rating is 'serious'

The loss of Brazil's investment grade rating is "serious," and shows the government has failed to do everything that needs to be done, Finance Minister Joaquim Levy said on Wednesday.

He remained silent when asked by reporters whether he would remain in his position.

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The finance ministry said in a statement that achieving a minimum primary surplus was "indispensable," adding that it remained confident Brazil's economy would return to growth after Fitch Ratings downgraded Brazil's debt to junk.

Fitch Ratings stripped Brazil of its coveted investment grade rating on Wednesday, the second agency to do so this year as Latin America's biggest economy sinks deeper into its worst recession in a generation.

The deeper-than-expected recession, adverse fiscal developments and increased political uncertainty led to the downgrade, Fitch said in a statement. Rival agency Standard & Poor's downgraded Brazil to junk this year.

Brazil debt insurance costs rose and its Eurobond prices fell across the curve on Wednesday after Fitch's announcement - the second ratings agency after Standard & Poor's to downgrade its debt to junk status.

Data from Markit showed five-year credit default swaps rose 28 basis points (bps) to 482 bps.

Dollar-denominated bonds fell, with the 2030 issue dropping 1.984 cents to trade at 144.200 cents - its lowest level since at least May 2011 - while the 2045 bond lost 1.503 cents to change hands at 67.197 cents. The average premium investors demanded over U.S. Treasuries widened by 10 bps.

"Local rates and currency will be under pressure in the next couple of days because of forced selling by index funds as we now have two agencies rating it as sub-investment grade," said Bernd Berg, director for EM strategy at Societe Generale.

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