UPDATE 2-Colombia holds rates again to boost growth while inflation low

viernes 28 de febrero de 2014 16:52 GYT
 

(Adds bank chief, analyst comments, background)

By Peter Murphy and Helen Murphy

BOGOTA Feb 28 (Reuters) - Colombia held its benchmark interest rate steady for an eleventh straight month on Friday in a widely expected move to continue supporting the economy while inflation remains low.

The central bank's board voted unanimously to leave borrowing costs unchanged at 3.25 percent, the lowest rate in Latin America, in line with the estimates of all 30 analysts polled by Reuters earlier this week.

The bank shaved 200 basis points off the interest rate from July 2012 until March 2013 to boost growth and has kept it on hold since. The next move could be a rate increase as soon as April, analysts say, now inflation is creeping higher.

"Interest rates remain at levels that stimulate aggregate spending and it is hoped they will help 2014 product approach the productive capacity of the economy and that inflation converges toward the 3 percent target," the bank said in a statement following its decision.

Economist Daniel Lozano saw little change in the wording of the statement from last month, though he brought forward to April from May his prediction for the next rate move after the bank raised some of its economic growth estimates.

"The tone of the communique was neutral," said Lozano from Bogota-based brokerage Serfinco.

While inflation remains at the bottom end of the bank's 2 to 4 percent target range, economic growth has started to pick up. Consumer prices last year rose 1.94 percent, the lowest level in five decades.   Continuación...