Colombia central bank board member said rate cut should be mulled

viernes 13 de febrero de 2015 15:14 GYT

BOGOTA Feb 13 (Reuters) - A member of Colombia's central bank board said at its January policy meeting it was necessary to consider a counter-cyclical cut to interest rates, minutes of the meeting showed on Friday, at a time when lower oil prices were denting growth.

The board voted unanimously to hold the benchmark interest rate steady at 4.5 percent for a fifth straight month. It will hold another rate-setting meeting on Feb. 20.

Twelve-month inflation in January hit its highest level since November 2011, at 3.82 percent, complicating monetary policy decisions for the board as they seek to keep price growth within a 2-4 percent band without smothering expansion.

The weakening of the peso by about one-fifth last year has raised prices of imports, increasing inflationary pressures.

The central bank sees economic growth this year as most probably being 3.6 percent. The minutes showed that another board member had a lower view - of between 3.0 and 3.5 percent growth.

Colombia's economy is expected to have expanded 4.8 percent in 2014, the central bank says, but a fall of more than 50 percent in international crude oil prices, the country's top export, will slow economic activity this year.

The minutes noted that domestic demand continued to be strong and that the economy was running at close to its full productive potential. (Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra; Writing by Peter Murphy; Editing by Bernadette Baum)