Colombia central bank still divided on rate -minutes

viernes 4 de septiembre de 2015 15:34 GYT

BOGOTA, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Policymakers on Colombia's central bank board continue to be divided on whether to hold the benchmark interest rate amid slowing growth or to raise it to head off inflationary pressures, according to minutes released on Friday.

The seven policymakers have kept the country's key lending rate at 4.5 percent for 12 straight months as they weigh lower-than-predicted economic expansion against the risks of rising inflation.

Minutes for the August meeting showed that some members favored a hold in the rate because they think that falling growth may eventually help reduce inflation back down to within the bank's target range of 2 to 4 percent.

Another group also favored holding the rate at least until more information about lower growth is available, so they can "better balance the risks of higher inflation and excessive adjustment of economic growth."

But other members favored raising borrowing costs by 25 basis points to control inflation, which has been above the target range since March, the minutes said.

"In their view, a 25 basis points increase would contribute to prevent expectations from becoming unanchored," the minutes said.

The tone of the minutes was more moderate than those from July, when some policymakers argued that though inflation worries could perhaps be tamed by a preventative raise in the rate, there was also a danger that the economy would grow less than expected.

According to analysts polled by Reuters, a majority of the board are inclined to raise the rate sooner rather than later to counter the uptick in inflation.

Consumer price figures for August will be released on Saturday. In July 12-month inflation reached 4.46 percent.

The board will next meet on Sept. 25. (Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)