(Adds graph on central bank statement, context on Federal Reserve)
LIMA, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Peru’s central bank raised the benchmark interest rate to 3.75 percent as widely expected on Thursday, its second hike in four months as it tries to tame inflation stoked by the sol currency’s depreciation.
Fifteen out of 17 economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast the 25 basis point increase after inflation spiked to 4.17 percent in November.
The central bank reiterated that it would closely monitor inflation and consider additional increases to the key rate to bring inflation back into its 1 to 3 percent target range.
“Inflation expectations are above the target range,” the central bank said in a statement. Last month it said they were gradually converging to its target range.
The central bank omitted language used in previous statements accompanying a hike that said the move did not mark the start of a tightening cycle. That suggested the bank might be considering more tightening in the near-term.
The central bank raised the key rate for the first time in four years in September, amid expectations of rising interest rates in the United States that have dampened demand for the sol and other emerging market currencies.
The sol has weakened by about 13 percent against the dollar so far this year, despite the central bank’s interventions in the spot market to counter its losses.
The central bank’s rate hike comes days before the Federal Reserve will decide whether to increase borrowing costs in the United States, a move that could put new pressure on the sol.
The central bank has said that the sol’s depreciation has largely been driven by speculation that will ease after the Fed raises rates.
Reporting by Lima Newsroom; Editing by Andrew Hay