March 9, 2017 / 2:52 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 2-Mexico annual inflation jumps to highest in almost 7 years

 (Adds products that contributed to inflation rise)
    MEXICO CITY, March 9 (Reuters) - Mexico's annual inflation
surged to its highest in nearly seven years in February as the
weak peso drove up prices of imported goods like cars, data
showed on Thursday, in a sign that the central bank could again
increase interest rates.
    Inflation in the 12 months through February             
rose to 4.86 percent, its highest since March 2010, the national
statistics agency said. 
    That compared with 4.72 percent in January and expectations
of 4.82 percent of economists in a Reuters poll.
    Mexico's government raised gasoline prices in January,
prompting protests and looting across the country and pushing
inflation above the central bank's 4 percent tolerance ceiling
that month. 
    A jump in car prices was the biggest influence on the price
index in February, followed by cost increases for cooking gas
and tortillas.
    The central bank has hiked rates to an eight-year high to
combat the inflation jump and shore up a weak peso hurt by fears
of what impact U.S. President Donald Trump's policies could have
on Latin America's second-largest economy. 
    Yields on Mexican interest rate swaps          project that
the central bank could raise interest rates by around 100 basis
points by the end of the year            .
    The annual reading of the core index, which strips out some
volatile food and energy prices and reflects higher import
prices on goods due to the weak peso, rose to 4.26 percent
             from 3.84 percent in January. 
    From the previous month, consumer prices              rose
0.58 percent in February, while the core index gained 0.76
percent             .

 (Reporting by Alexandra Alper and Michael O'Boyle; Editing by
Lisa Von Ahn and Bernadette Baum)
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