March 21, 2017 / 8:47 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Argentine central bank keeps rates flat, eyes volatile prices

(Adds central bank statement, rate decision)

BUENOS AIRES, March 21 (Reuters) - Argentina’s central bank kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 24.75 percent on Tuesday, and said it continued to have a cautious attitude toward monetary policy considering volatility in monthly inflation.

The bank has held the policy rate steady since late November. Inflation in February rose to 2.5 percent, driven by an increase in electricity rates.

“The central bank will be ready to act in case it becomes necessary,” the bank’s monetary policy committee said in a statement, adding that early data regarding March inflation was mixed.

“The bank will continue to maintain a clear anti-inflationary bias to ensure that the disinflation process continues towards its target of inflation between 12 percent and 17 percent during 2017,” it said.

Argentina’s economy grew 0.5 percent in the fourth quarter compared with the third quarter of 2016, the government said earlier on Tuesday, in a sign a prolonged recession was coming to an end.

Reporting by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Leslie Adler

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