UPDATE 2-Colombia central bank sees first quarter growth of 4.8 pct

viernes 9 de mayo de 2014 17:59 GYT

(Adds finance minister quote on currency measures)

By Peter Murphy

BOGOTA May 9 (Reuters) - Colombia's central bank chief said on Friday the economy probably grew about 4.8 percent in the first quarter of 2014 and that inflation was on course to hit its 3 percent target for the year, even as internal demand picks up.

Jose Dario Uribe said last month's quarter-point increase in the benchmark interest rate to 3.5 percent - the first in more than two years - was a "prudent" measure to keep a lid on inflation but the lending rate remained "expansionary" nonetheless.

"We see healthy dynamism in internal demand and investment," Uribe said during a televised update on inflation that he makes each quarter. He said economic output would rise to the country's potential level within 12 to 14 months.

Colombia's economy has maintained low inflation and enviable growth above 4 percent, faster than most other South American countries with the exception of Peru.

Expansion this year is expected to be higher than last year's 4.3 percent, at around 4.7 percent, the government says.

The central bank has a lower growth estimate of 4.3 percent.

Foreign cash has gushed into the Andean nation's financial markets since March 19 when investment bank J.P. Morgan said it was raising the weighting of Colombian government bonds in two of its indexes.   Continuación...