(Adds comments from analyst in paragraphs 11-12)
LIMA, Aug 13 (Reuters) - Peru’s central bank again held the benchmark interest rate steady at 3.25 percent as widely expected on Thursday, citing weak but rebounding economic growth and currency-driven inflationary pressures.
All 15 analysts polled by Reuters had forecast the central bank would leave the key rate unchanged for the seventh month in a row in August.
In its monthly statement after its board meeting, the central bank sounded more optimistic about growth and more attentive to inflation than in months past.
“Economic activity is recovering, though it continues growing below its potential,” the bank said. “Expectations for inflation have grown, reaching rates similar to the upper limit of the target range.”
The central bank aims to keep the annual inflation rate between 1 percent and 3 percent. The rate in July rose to 3.56 percent - the highest since May of 2014.
The central bank has said the sol currency’s losses against the dollar have helped push up prices and would likely keep inflation above its target ceiling until next year.
But it reiterated that the trend was driven by supply.
“Inflation has been affected by temporary factors like the depreciating currency,” the bank said.
The sol has weakened by more than 8 percent against the dollar so far this year despite frequent interventions by the central bank in the local spot market.
An interest rate cut to spur economic growth would likely further dampen demand for soles amid growing expectations for tightening monetary policy in the U.S.
Pedro Tuesta, an analyst with consulting firm 4Cast, said pressure on the sol would likely prompt the central bank to raise the interest rate in the first quarter of 2016.
“Or even in late Q4 2015,” Tuesta said, if the exchange rate influences inflation expectations further.
Growth in Peru remains well under the 5 percent pace that the central bank views as the economy’s potential rate.
In May, the latest month for which official data has been released, the economy grew 1.22 percent from the same month a year earlier and the annual rate slowed to 1.64 percent.
But the central bank said earlier this week that June’s year-on-year expansion should come in above 3 percent.
Economic data for June is scheduled for release on Friday. (Reporting by Lima Newsroom; Editing by Diane Craft)