UPDATE 2-Colombia growth at 7-yr low; chance of tightening cycle halt

lunes 29 de agosto de 2016 20:56 GYT

(Adds downward revision of 2016 growth figure and comment from finance minister)

BOGOTA Aug 29 (Reuters) - Colombia's economic growth fell to its lowest rate in seven years during the second quarter as oil revenues and utilities consumption slid, raising chances the central bank could end a nearly year-long tightening cycle.

The Andean nation's gross domestic product grew a smaller-than-expected 2 percent in the second quarter compared with a year earlier, the statistics agency DANE said on Monday. In the first quarter, the annual rate of expansion was 2.5 percent.

GDP grew 0.2 percent in the second quarter from the first three months of the year.

Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas revised the government's growth forecast for this year to 2.5 percent from 3 percent, blaming a truckers strike, low oil prices, drought and economic woes in neighbors Venezuela and Ecuador.

"It's worse than we were expecting," Cardenas said in a YouTube video. "Bad news in the second quarter."

Still, the new GDP forecast is "realistic and reflects current adverse economic conditions," he said.

Some economists said the GDP data could prompt the central bank to hold its benchmark interest rate steady at Wednesday's policy meeting. A survey of analysts published last week forecast growth of 2.2 percent.

Despite slowing growth, policymakers have raised rates 11 times since September to ease inflation running at over two times the bank's 2 percent to 4 percent target range. Last month the annual inflation rate was 8.97 percent.   Continuación...