UPDATE 1-Peru's central bank leaves benchmark interest rate unchanged
(New throughout, adds quote from central bank, context)
LIMA Dec 11 (Reuters) - Peru's central bank on Thursday left the benchmark interest rate unchanged at 3.50 percent for the third month in a row as widely expected because the economy is still growing below its potential.
Most analysts polled by Reuters said they expected the monetary authority to hold the rate steady as the currency slips and the economy shows signs of strengthening.
The central bank noted volatility in currency markets and the global oil slump, among other factors, for its decision this month.
"Lower international oil prices have started to gradually move into the domestic market," the central bank said in a statement.
But forecasts for economic activity still point to weak growth, the bank added.
The central bank now sees the potential growth rate, the pace at which the economy can expand without stoking inflation, at about 5.5 percent.
Consumer prices in Peru fell 0.15 percent in November as the annual rate remained slightly above the central bank's 1-3 percent target range.
The central bank has cut the benchmark interest rate twice this year as the economy has slowed to its weakest pace since 2009 on tumbling mineral exports and slipping private investment. Continuación...