3 MIN. DE LECTURA
LIMA, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Peru's central bank will likely hold the benchmark interest rate steady at 3.50 percent in the near term after inflation slowed and the currency gained slightly in September, the president of the bank said on Monday.
The regulator raised the benchmark interest rate for the first time in four years last month to tame currency-driven inflation in the dollarized economy.
"We don't see any pressures that would merit a hike with information we have right now," bank chief Julio Velarde said in an interview, citing the 0.03 percent rise in consumer prices in September.
Peru's sol fell about 8 percent against the dollar between January and August amid expectations for tighter U.S. monetary policy, but firmed fractionally during September, helped by the central bank's rate hike and controls on currency derivatives.
Inflation in Peru slowed to 3.90 percent in September, still outside the bank's target range of 1-3 percent.
Velarde said a hotly anticipated move by the U.S. Federal Reserve to increase interest rates and worries over slower growth in Asian powerhouse China were already priced into commodity markets and emerging economy exchange rates.
"There has been a lot of volatility ... but I think that a large part of those effects have already been introduced into the market," Veladere said.
The central bank's next policy meeting is scheduled for Oct. 15, a week later than usual because of International Monetary Fund meetings this week in the Peruvian capital, Lima.
The IMF said on Monday that China, a major buyer of Peru's mineral exports, has the capacity to manage its economic slowdown but needs to guard against potential spillovers.
Velarde said he was optimistic that China's economy would improve in the fourth quarter.
"The worst-case scenario is that China will grow between 4.5 and 5 percent in the next five years, which is a gradual slowdown and I think perfectly manageable," Velarde said. (Reporting By Teresa Cespedes and Mitra Taj; Editing by Grant McCool)