UPDATE 3-Colombia economy grows 4.3 pct in 2013, beats expectations

jueves 20 de marzo de 2014 18:41 GYT

* Strong consumer demand seen driving expansion

* Growth beats market view, but inert for rates decision

* Peso gains as foreigners expected to buy more gov't debt (Adds quarter on quarter growth, 2014 outlook, updates exchange rate)

By Peter Murphy and Nelson Bocanegra

BOGOTA, March 20 (Reuters) - Colombia's economy grew 4.3 percent in 2013, one of the fastest rates in Latin America, beating market expectations on momentum driven by nearly a year of low interest rates.

The economy began 2013 sluggishly but finished the year with the strongest quarterly growth in six quarters, expanding 4.9 percent in the final three months of last year, Colombia's national statistics agency DANE reported on Thursday.

Full year growth came in slightly below the government's target of 4.5 percent but was stronger than analysts' expectations for 4.1 percent expansion.

Construction, agriculture and mining were among the strongest sectors in the Andean economy last year, DANE said. That follows a surge in foreign investment in the last few years on improved security after military offensives against leftist guerrillas.

Thursday's data did not change expectations that the central bank will maintain its benchmark interest rate at 3.25 percent for a 12th straight month when its board meets on Friday, analysts said.   Continuación...