UPDATE 1-Mexico central bank narrows growth forecast, eyes Fed
(Adds comments from central banker, analyst)
MEXICO CITY Nov 4 (Reuters) - Mexico's central bank narrowed its growth outlook for this year on Wednesday but held its forecasts steady for 2016, repeating that it expects inflation to hold slightly below its 3 percent target for the rest of 2015.
The central bank, in its quarterly inflation report posted online, said it now saw growth in 2015 between 1.9 percent and 2.4 percent, a narrower range than the 1.7 percent to 2.5 percent forecast in its last report.
Central Bank Governor Agustin Carstens said that there had been only a limited impact on inflation from a steep slump in the peso this year, and he noted that foreign investors had increased their holdings of longer-term Mexican peso bonds.
Mexico's central bank is widely expected to raise its benchmark interest rate from 3 percent when the U.S. Federal Reserve lifts borrowing costs. The market has tilted toward bets for a hike in December by the Fed.
A poll from Banamex last month showed the median analyst expectation was for Mexico to raise interest rates in December.
"The bank is going to be very aware of the actions that the Federal Reserve takes," Carstens said. Still, he said "it cannot be presumed that it will be an immediate, automatic response by the (Mexican central) bank."
Marco Oviedo, an analyst at Barclays, who has an out-of-consensus call for a hike in June next year, said the central bank's report suggested that policymakers are looking at holding interest rates steady as long as possible.
"The outlook for growth and inflation suggests that there is no need to hike rates on the back of stable inflation expectations," Oviedo said in a note to clients.
The bank held its 2016 growth forecast steady at between 2.5 percent and 3.5 percent and said inflation should remain close to 3 percent next year. (Reporting by Michael O'Boyle and Anna Yukhananov; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
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