(Adds comments by central bank, context on currency slide and economic slowdown)
By Mitra Taj and Teresa Cespedes
LIMA, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Peru’s central bank surprised the market by cutting the benchmark interest rate 25 basis points to 3.25 percent, following economic growth data for November that came in far below expectations.
The central bank said the move did not mean the start of a series of rate reductions.
All but one of 20 analysts polled by Reuters earlier this week said they thought the monetary authority would hold the interest rate steady for a fourth straight month to avoid stoking a steeper slide in the local sol currency .
But concerns about the ongoing economic lull appear to have weighed more heavily.
“Most recent indicators of productive activity continue showing a weak economic cycle, with GDP growth rates under potential throughout 2014 and significant drops in primary activities because of negative supply factors,” the central bank said in a statement.
Earlier on Thursday, the state statistics agency had released data showing the economy grew by just 0.31 percent year-on-year in November - the weakest expansion since July 2009.
The central bank did not mention volatility in currency markets as it did in its statement last month, when it held off on lowering the interest rate because of the sol’s slide.
Late last month, the central bank tightened rules on currency derivatives to curb speculation it says helped fuel the sol’s 6.4 percent weakening against the U.S. dollar in 2014.
After growth data for November was posted, the sol slid past the psychological barrier of 3 per dollar for the first time in more than five years.
Reporting by Mitra Taj and Teresa Cespedes; Editing by Lisa Shumaker