UPDATE 3-Colombia central bank holds rate, trims growth outlook

viernes 30 de enero de 2015 15:59 GYT

(Adds finance minister comment)

By Julia Symmes Cobb and Nelson Bocanegra

BOGOTA Jan 30 (Reuters) - Colombia's central bank held its key lending rate for a fifth straight month on Friday, in an effort to boost slowing economic growth as revenue from oil price declines and mounting problems in Europe increase uncertainty.

The bank's seven-member board voted unanimously to keep the rate at 4.5 percent, in line with the forecast of analysts polled by Reuters this week.

The bank lowered its 2015 economic growth forecast to a "most-probable" 3.6 percent from 4.3 percent previously.

"This decline reflects growth in domestic demand that is adjusting itself to lower levels of national income," the central bank said in a statement. "The sharp drop in oil prices is already reflected in cuts in investment programs in the sector."

Even so, Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas said portfolio investment was flowing into the economy, offsetting some of the lost investment as foreign players remain undeterred. Oil is Colombia's biggest export.

"There has been a very important entrance of portfolio investment, which shows that despite the fall in oil prices, confidence remains intact and foreigners are still bringing dollars into the country at an unprecedented rate," said Cardenas, who represents the government on the board.

The bank also trimmed its forecast for full-year 2014 growth to a likely 4.8 percent, down from 5 percent. The economy accelerated 4 percent in the fourth quarter, the bank estimated.   Continuación...