UPDATE 1-Chile cenbank holds key rate at 3 pct for sixth straight month

jueves 16 de abril de 2015 17:21 GYT

(Adds bank's comments, details)

SANTIAGO, April 16 (Reuters) - Chile's central bank held its benchmark interest rate steady at 3.0 percent on Thursday for a sixth consecutive month, as widely expected, and reiterated its neutral bias on future policy.

The central bank lowered the rate by 200 basis points between October 2013 and October 2014 to stimulate a flagging economy but has since paused to allow above-target inflation to cool.

With growth picking up pace and annual inflation staying above the central bank's 2 percent to 4 percent tolerance range since April 2014, the bank will likely be dissuaded from resuming monetary easing in 2015.

"Overall, the annual change of the consumer price index is still high, and its evolution will continue to be monitored with special attention," the bank said in a statement after its monthly monetary policy meeting.

Bank President Rodrigo Vergara said on April 1 that the bank's operating assumption was that it would raise the benchmark interest rate towards the end of 2015 or at the start of next year.

Economic activity is evolving in line with expectations, while investment has evolved below expectations, the bank said.

It reiterated its neutral stance on rates, saying that "any future changes in the monetary policy rate will depend on the implications of domestic and external macroeconomic conditions on the inflationary outlook." (Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Ted Botha)