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Colombia's central bank maintains benchmark rate

The central bank of Colombia decided to maintain its benchmark interest rate at 4.5% and said some indicators suggest that the current reference interest rate is slightly expansionary.

Banco de la República said annual inflation stood at 3.37% in February, while the average of core inflation slipped to 3.96%. Inflation expectations were slightly revised to 3.35% and 3.28% in December 2018 and 2019, respectively.

"Despite the favorable behavior of the CPI, the inertia in the inflation rate for some items and a less favorable behavior in food inflation could affect expectations and delay the convergence of inflation to its 3.0% target," the bank said.

GDP expanded by 1.8% in 2017, higher than the 1.6% projection by the central bank's technical staff. The staff decided to maintain its GDP growth estimate at 2.7% for 2018 based on the 2017 figure, according to the bank.