February 23, 2017 / 3:19 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Mexico core annual inflation hits near 7-year high

 (Recasts with annual rates)
    MEXICO CITY, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Mexico's core annual
inflation rate in early February rose faster than expected to a
nearly seven-year high, the national statistics institute said
on Thursday, supporting expectations for further interest rate
hikes this year. 
    The core price index             , which strips out some
volatile food and energy prices, rose 4.20 percent in the
12-month period to mid-February in a sign that the weaker peso
is driving up consumer prices.
    It was the highest annual core mid-month inflation reading
since March 2010. It also came in above the 4.02 percent
forecast in a Reuters poll.
    Mexico's central bank raised its benchmark interest rate
earlier this month to a nearly eight-year high after a steep
hike in gasoline prices and weakness in the peso sparked by
Donald Trump's election as U.S. president.             
    The headline inflation rate for the year through
mid-February was 4.71 percent             , easing slightly from
a more than four-year high in January. 
    In the first half of February, consumer prices rose 0.33
percent              while the core price index             
climbed 0.46 percent.

 (Reporting by Michael O'Boyle Edits by W Simon)
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