UPDATE 1-Carstens sees 'gradual' U.S. rate hikes, Mexico should follow

lunes 4 de enero de 2016 17:26 GYT

(Adds Carstens comments on economy)

MEXICO CITY Jan 4 (Reuters) - Mexican Central Bank chief Agustin Carstens on Monday said that the U.S. Federal Reserve will likely raise interest rates at a "very gradual" pace this year and that Mexico should follow a similar path.

"If (the Fed) is going to raise interest rates, I think it will be very gradual, and this should make it that we have to raise rates gradually," Carstens said in an interview with local radio.

Mexico's central bank hiked borrowing costs last month for the first time in seven years in a bid to stem further weakening in the peso after the Federal Reserve lifted U.S. interest rates.

Carstens added that economic growth in Mexico would likely pick up this year, as long as the U.S. economy continued to gain steam.

While growth in China is slowing, hurting other emerging market economies such as Brazil that are dependent on commodities exports, Mexico mostly exports manufactured goods and is more linked to the U.S. economy.

"In the face of a really complicated (global) scenario, there are reasonable possibilities that the economic results in Mexico... will mark an advance over 2015," he said.

Economists in a poll published by the central bank on Dec. 18 projected that Latin America's No. 2 economy grew 2.45 percent in 2015 and is set to expand 2.74 percent this year. (Reporting by Michael O'Boyle; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)