Colombian central bank may hold rate amid global uncertainty
By Helen Murphy and Nelson Bocanegra
BOGOTA Oct 30 (Reuters) - Colombia's central bank will likely continue to pause its monetary tightening cycle on Thursday as it looks to bolster economic growth amid an uncertain global environment and benign inflation pressures.
The seven-member board will leave the benchmark rate at 4.5 percent, 31 of 32 analysts forecast in a Reuters poll. The board, which began meeting today at 8:30 a.m. in Bogota (13:30 GMT), left the rate steady last month after raising it from 3.25 percent in a series of hikes starting in April. The last move was a quarter-point increase to 4.5 percent in August.
Inflation is forecast by the central bank to end 2014 slightly higher than the mid-point of the 2-4 percent target, a level policy makers are comfortable with even though its above a near 50-year low of 1.94 percent in 2013.
Meanwhile, economic growth is expected to slow to 4.5 percent in the second half from 5.4 percent in the first half.
"This will be an easy meeting because the center of discussion will be focused on the external situation," said Francisco Chaves, chief economist at Corredores Asociados.
"The global slowdown and the drop in oil prices didn't have the same weight a month ago, so there's likely to be more of an aroma of unanimity in holding the rate this time," he added.
The bank has raised concerns recently about the global economy, highlighting how other nations could impact Colombia. A recovery in the United States comes as China, Europe and other Latin American nations are slowing, and trade terms could deteriorate along with a drop in oil prices, it said. Continuación...