Colombia finance minister sees central bank holding key rate steady

jueves 27 de noviembre de 2014 10:34 GYT

BOGOTA Nov 27 (Reuters) - Colombia's central bank board will likely hold its benchmark interest rate steady at 4.5 percent at its meeting this week as economic indicators remain within government goals, Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas said on Thursday.

Cardenas, who represents the government on the bank's seven-member board, said inflation is near the bank's target of 3 percent, economic growth is close to potential, and currency depreciation is buoying exporters.

The government estimates gross domestic product (GDP) will expand 4.7 percent this year, while the central bank sees growth of 5 percent.

"We are at an optimal point, that's why I think that monetary and fiscal policy will not change, it will not move," Cardenas said on local Caracol radio.

Of 16 analysts surveyed in a Reuters poll on Monday, 15 expected the bank's board to hold the key lending rate at 4.5 percent for a third straight month, while one analyst foresaw a 25 basis point increase.

Cardenas said the only cause for worry is Colombia's current account deficit, which has grown to 4.5 percent of GDP due to the fall in international oil prices and exports. The oil industry is the country's biggest exporter and source of foreign exchange. (Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Peter Galloway)