Following 21 months of net deposits, Brazil's emblematic savings product poupança accounts showed its smallest gain since March 2010, adding just 275mn reais (US$164mn) in January 2011, according to new central bank BCB data.
This compares to 6.36bn reais in December - a traditionally high month for savings, due to the local tradition of "the 13th salary," in which Brazilians usually receive a double monthly salary in December - and 2.62bn reais in January last year.
While the stock of savings accounts has grown 18.0% in the 12 months to end-January, it was up just 0.6% from end-December to 381bn reais.
Federally controlled Caixa Econômica Federal (CEF) is the leading bank in this funding source, followed by Banco do Brasil (BB). CEF said in a statement that it had 34.3% of the total amount of poupança savings in the country.
However, both banks have seen major expansions in their mortgage lending portfolios - one of the required lending destinations of poupança funds - in the last year, with the overall segment growing more than 50% in 2010. This has prompted interest in what other funding may be able to fuel this housing drive, including plans from CEF to step up securitization efforts.
Poupança accounts are remunerated at 6% in addition to a reference rate (TR).