UPDATE 1-Mexico economy 'very likely' to grow above 3 pct in 2016-Carstens
(Adds quotes, background on rates decision)
MEXICO CITY Dec 18 (Reuters) - Mexico's economy will "very likely" grow at a pace above 3 percent next year, helped by a more robust expansion in top trading partner the United States, Mexican central bank governor Agustin Carstens told local radio on Friday.
The rosy prediction comes after the bank forecast growth of 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent next year, above the 1.9 percent to 2.4 percent pace it forecast for 2015, according to its quarterly inflation report released last month.
Carstens said an expected acceleration in the U.S. economy should fuel a pick-up in Mexican exports.
"That will very likely take us to growth above 3 percent," he told local radio.
The Banco de Mexico lifted interest rates off a record low on Thursday, its first hike in seven years, after the U.S. Federal Reserve rose borrowing costs earlier in the week on an improving American growth outlook.
Mexico's 25-basis-point move, in lock-step with the Fed's, was aimed at preventing the reversal of capital inflows into Mexico, initially spurred by near zero-interest rates in the United States.
"The point now is for that money not to leave us, that is why we had to respond that way," he said. (Reporting by Jean Luis Arce and Alexandra Alper, additional reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; editing by Chizu Nomiyama and G Crosse)
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