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UPDATE 1-Brazilian inflation falls at fastest rate in 15 years

Jamie McGeever

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BRASILIA, July 10 (Reuters) - Annual consumer price inflation in Brazil rose at its slowest pace in over a year in June, government statistics agency IBGE said on Wednesday, and chalked up the biggest fall from one month to the next in more than 15 years.

The annual rate of inflation fell to 3.37% in June from 4.66% in May, a decline not seen since January 2004 and an indication that inflation has peaked and is on track to undershoot the central bank's official target this year.

The central bank's target is for consumer price inflation to end this year at 4.25%, and finish next year at 4.00%. June's figure was the lowest since the 2.86% inflation rate registered in May last year.

Although the annual figure was slightly higher than the 3.33% median forecast in a Reuters poll of economists, it will likely reinforce growing market expectations that the central bank will start cutting interest rates later this year.

The biggest drivers of the slowdown were food and drink prices, which fell 0.25% on the month, and transportation costs, which fell 0.31%, IBGE said. Communication costs also saw deflation, with prices dipping 0.02% on the month.

The biggest increase was in health and personal care costs, which rose 0.64% on the month, IBGE said.

Overall, the monthly rate of inflation in June slowed to 0.01%, the lowest this year, from 0.13% in May, IBGE said.

The central bank's latest weekly 'FOCUS' survey of financial institutions on Monday showed that, on average, economists see inflation ending this year at 3.80%, and the central bank's benchmark Selic interest rate at 5.50%. That implies 100 basis points of policy loosening from the current record low 6.50%. (Reporting by Jamie McGeever)

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