Peru's inflation in Feb likely around 0.32 pct - cenbank

Reuters

LIMA, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Consumer prices in Peru in February will likely rise at a rate similar to January's 0.32 percent increase because of high food prices driven by climate conditions, the central bank said on Friday.

"Prices have been fluctuating a lot but a rate similar to January's is expected" in February, chief central bank economist Adrian Armas told reporters on a conference call.

Sharper-than-expected price hikes in January pushed the Andean country's annual inflation rate to 3.07 percent, just above the central bank's 1-3 percent target range.

The central bank expects inflation to cool toward its goal of 2 percent this year.

Armas also said the central bank is in a "comfortable position" for coping with any bouts of financial turbulence in global markets as the U.S. Federal Reserve winds down its stimulus program.

The central bank controls international reserves of around $65 billion, and has intervened in the local spot market to sell nearly $1.5 billion this year as the sol currency has slipped 0.6 percent.

On Thursday the central bank kept the benchmark interest rate steady at 4 percent for the third month in a row, while reiterating the economy is expanding below its potential rate.

Last year the economy grew 5 percent, the weakest expansion in four years as mineral exports tumbled on softer demand and lower prices.

The monetary authority has said it prefers to loosen reserve requirements on commercial banks as it has several times in recent months rather than lower the key rate.

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