UPDATE 2-Argentina central bank holds rates steady as inflation forecasts stay high

martes 4 de octubre de 2016 18:01 GYT

(Adds central bank leaving interest rates unchanged)

By Luc Cohen

BUENOS AIRES Oct 4 (Reuters) - Argentina's central bank kept its reference rate unchanged at 26.75 percent for the second straight week on Tuesday, after last week ending an eight-week cutting cycle as policymakers try to damp inflation.

Annual inflation will be 39.6 percent in 2016, a poll of 59 economists the central bank published earlier Tuesday showed, down slightly from their forecast for 41 percent inflation in last month's poll, but above a government official's expectation for 35 percent to 36 percent inflation.

Deputy cabinet chief Mario Quintana gave that view in a radio interview Tuesday, saying expectations for inflation of about 40 percent in 2016 were too high and that inflation would end the year "well below that."

One month after taking office in December, center-right President Mauricio Macri's administration said it hoped to end 2016 with inflation between 20 percent and 25 percent, but inflation has remained stubbornly high after the government lifted capital controls and ended some subsidies.

Finance Minister Alfonso Prat-Gay said in June the annualized rate of inflation through May was likely 40 percent to 42 percent, although he said it would start falling in June.

Macri ordered the statistics agency closed to revamp data collection methods that were widely discredited under former President Cristina Fernandez.

In May, the statistics agency resumed publishing inflation data for greater Buenos Aires, used as a proxy for national inflation. It has not released its calculations from January through April nor published annualized inflation data.   Continuación...