In what came as a surprise to financial commentators, the central bank of Brazil has held a currency swap.

The surprise move, the first in nearly two years, took place yesterday and it is expected that another currency swap auction will take place today, the Financial Times reports.

Yesterday, the Latin American country's central bank sold contracts that amounted to $400 million.

Although such a move had been expected if the real did not improve its performance, it was not expected to take place so early.

Ricardo Amorim of New York's WestLB told the FT: "A very weak real could put it in the position of either not being able to cut interest rates or, if it did cut them, of weakening its credibility."

Some commentators have suggested that Brazil's central bank acted to try and calm the current climate, with suggestions that investors with short positions were aiming to ensure the real performed badly against the dollar.

Yesterday, the real stood at 2.276 to the dollar, but later dropped to 2.3625 per cent.

Today, Brazil's monetary policy committee is due to reveal a significant reduction in basis points in the target overnight rate.