UPDATE 3-Colombia posts 3 pct GDP growth, rate hike seen more likely

jueves 10 de septiembre de 2015 14:54 GYT

(Adds comment from finance minister)

BOGOTA, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Colombia's economy grew 3 percent in the second quarter, the government said on Thursday, a year-on-year figure that analysts said could prompt the central bank to raise its benchmark interest rate to counteract inflationary pressure.

The growth figure is slightly above the 2.95 percent forecast by analysts, but well below the 4.2 pct expansion in the second quarter last year.

Latin America's fourth-largest economy has been hit by a fall in global oil prices and is struggling with an increase in inflation.

Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas said he expects full-year GDP to increase 3.6 percent, buoyed by slightly stronger growth in the second half.

Crude oil is Colombia's biggest export and leading source of foreign exchange.

Twelve-month inflation reached 4.74 percent in August. The measure has been above the central bank's 2 percent to 4 percent target range since February because of a precipitous 60 percent fall in the peso currency in the past year and rising food prices as the El Niño weather phenomenon disrupts farming.

"If internal demand is decelerating, it hasn't been by as much as the central bank expected in order to counteract the risks of the inflation uptick," said Angela Gonzalez, an analyst at Banco de Bogota.

"With this figure they will have to change their outlook a lot - now is the time to raise the interest rate."   Continuación...