UPDATE 2-Colombian central bank holds rate as expected at 4.5 pct

jueves 30 de octubre de 2014 15:45 GYT

(Adds comment, detail on inflation)

By Helen Murphy and Nelson Bocanegra

BOGOTA Oct 30 (Reuters) - Colombia's central bank held its benchmark interest rate steady on Thursday, meeting market expectations, as benign inflation allows policymakers to maintain economic stimulus while global conditions remain uncertain.

The seven-member board voted unanimously to maintain the rate at 4.5 percent, as predicted by 31 of 32 analysts forecast in a Reuters poll. It was raised to that level in August after a series of quarter-point hikes that began in April.

The bank has expressed concern over the global economy, highlighting how other nations could impact Colombia. Analysts now expect the bank to hold the rate at least through year end.

"New projections for world economic activity for the remainder of 2014 and 2015 suggest that the average growth of our business partners will be less than estimated earlier," the board's statement said.

"External demand will be driven mainly by the U.S. economy, while low dynamism is expected in the Euro zone. China will have a slowdown, and some partner countries in the region will grow at less than their average rates of recent years."

The bank narrowed its forecast range for 2014 GDP growth to between 4.5 percent and 5.5 percent versus 4.2 percent to 5.8 percent previously. It kept its estimate for probable growth unchanged at 5 percent.

Economic growth in 2015 will likely be lower than this year but probably remain above 4 percent, bank chief Jose Dario Uribe said.   Continuación...