UPDATE 1-Chile central bank holds key interest rate at 3.5 pct
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SANTIAGO May 17 (Reuters) - Chile's central bank held the benchmark interest rate at 3.5 percent on Tuesday, as widely expected, maintaining its bias from the last meeting in April.
The bank has held the rate steady since raising it 50 basis points in late 2015 to help contain stubbornly high inflation .
Recent data have indicated that, while still above target, consumer price rises may be cooling, while the economy of the top copper exporter is struggling to rebound from a fall in mining investment.
"The board estimates that, to ensure the convergence of inflation to the target, monetary policy will need to continue to normalize," said the bank in its post-meeting statement, echoing April's bias.
Most analysts now expect the bank to leave the rate on hold for the rest of the year.
(Reporting by Santiago bureau; Editing by G Crosse and Chris Reese)
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