UPDATE 2-Colombia cenbank holds key interest rate at 4.5 pct, as expected

viernes 22 de mayo de 2015 15:15 GYT

(Adds quotes, background)

By Julia Symmes Cobb and Nelson Bocanegra

BOGOTA May 22 (Reuters) - Colombia's central bank voted unanimously to hold its benchmark interest rate steady for a ninth consecutive month on Friday, as policymakers try to boost the economy without stoking inflation.

The bank's seven-member board said in a statement it voted to maintain the lending rate at 4.5 percent as the economy adapts to slowing consumption and a decline in exports.

"The Colombian economy is adjusting in an appropriate way to new conditions in the global economy and I would class it as a positive evaluation," bank chief Jose Dario Uribe told reporters after announcing the lending rate.

The decision met the forecast of all analysts in a Reuters survey this week.

The decline in internal demand and exports would be somewhat offset by a weaker peso and heavy investment in infrastructure, the central bank said in its statement.

"We do not note any change in the board's tone or its arguments for keeping interest rates steady," Citibank said in a note to investors. "Despite a new inflation surprise, the board showed no signs of considering a preemptive hike."

The weaker peso, which makes imports more expensive, was a minor driver in higher inflation in April, the bank said, with higher food prices the key factor.   Continuación...