Colombia cenbank seen holding rate at 3.25 pct to maintain growth

viernes 28 de febrero de 2014 09:30 GYT

* Colombia interest rate lowest in Latin America

* Central bank continues to intervene in currency market

* Inflation remains below target range

By Peter Murphy and Helen Murphy

BOGOTA, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Colombia's central bank is likely to leave the benchmark lending rate unchanged for an eleventh straight month on Friday, as looser monetary policy continues to stimulate the economy without pressuring still-low inflation.

The seven-member policy board will hold borrowing costs at 3.25 percent, a Reuters survey of 30 analysts found - a level that policymakers say has helped stimulate consumer spending and investment.

The bank shaved 200 basis points off the interest rate from July 2012 until March 2013 to help boost economic growth, and has held it steady since. The next rate lift could come as soon as May, analysts say, as inflation begins to creeps higher.

"The bank won't lift the rate until there is certainty that economic growth is sustainable; they will wait for that confirmation," said Carlos Castaneda, analyst at brokerage Asesores en Valores in Bogota.

Colombia's economy grew a better-than-expected 5.1 percent in the third quarter from the year-ago period, but the government revised down its second quarter number. Spare productive capacity, or a so-called negative output gap, is seen as one of the reasons for the economy's low inflation.   Continuación...