UPDATE 2-Mexico annual inflation cools in early April

jueves 23 de abril de 2015 09:46 GYT

(Adds economic activity)

MEXICO CITY, April 23 (Reuters) - Mexican annual inflation cooled closer to the central bank's 3 percent target in early April, even as a weaker peso threatened to push up prices in Latin America's second-biggest economy.

Inflation in the 12 months through mid-April eased to 3.03 percent, data from the national statistics office showed on Thursday, below the 3.14 percent reached in the full month of March and the 3.29 percent seen in a Reuters poll.

Mexican central bank governor Agustin Carstens said on Wednesday that there is no current evidence of inflationary pressures in Mexico that would justify an interest rate hike.

The central bank has said it expects inflation to end the year below its target given slack domestic demand.

The peso last month sank to a historic low against the dollar, hammered by a slump in oil prices and fears that higher U.S. interest rates will push investors to drop emerging market assets.

Carstens said earlier this month that policymakers were divided over whether to raise benchmark interest rates , now at a record low of 3.0 percent, before the Fed move and said the central bank would be guided by data as lift-off approached.

Consumer prices fell 0.45 percent in the first half of April compared with expectations for a 0.20 percent drop.

Core prices, which strip out some volatile food and energy costs, climbed 0.03 percent, below expectations for a 0.11 percent rise.

Separate data on Thursday showed economic activity was flat in February compared with the prior month in seasonally adjusted terms, as farming output contracted, services activity was flat and industry ticked up slightly.

On an annual basis economic output expanded 2.27 percent in the second month of the year. (Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)