12 de septiembre de 2014 / 20:59 / en 3 años

Colombia central bank minutes suggest rate hikes losing steam

BOGOTA, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Some members of Colombia’s central bank board thought there was no need to continue raising the benchmark interest rate, though a majority voted to increase borrowing costs for the fifth month, minutes of last month’s board meeting showed on Friday.

Members who voted in favor of the quarter-point rise on Aug. 29 said action was necessary to anchor inflation to the government’s target of between 2 and 4 percent for the year.

Others on the seven-member board felt outside factors would help prevent strong economic growth fueling inflation, making further rises in the interest rate unnecessary, the minutes showed.

“They voted to hold the rate at 4.25 percent and emphasized there are exogenous factors that would be helping to slow economic activity,” the minutes read.

The minutes highlighted one board member who said that the August rise would finish a process of “normalization” of monetary policy, indicating that he may support a pause in future rate hikes.

Colombia’s economic growth surged 6.4 percent in the first quarter, causing the bank to raise its forecast for expansion to around 5 percent in 2014, up from 4.3 percent previously.

Some analysts say the string of hikes, coming after lending rates held steady at 3.25 percent for 13 straight months, could soon end, as lower government revenues from oil and a weak global economy limit demand for exports.

Despite this year’s growth spurt and expansion of 4 percent or more every year since 2010, inflation remains controlled. The central bank expects price growth of around 3 percent this year, the mid-point of its 2-4 percent target range. (Reporting by Bogota newsroom; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Helen Murphy and Dan Grebler)

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