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Amid continued slow growth, Colombia central bank cuts benchmark rate to 6.25%

Colombia's central bank on May 26 cut its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to 6.25% citing low growth and ongoing weakness in economic activity.

In announcing the decision, Banco de la República noted that consumer annual inflation remained at similar levels as in March, falling slightly to 4.66%, with average inflation at 5.52%. Expectations for year-end 2017 and 2018, meanwhile, increased slightly to 4.45% and 3.57%, respectively.

The central bank has a 3.0% inflation target for 2018.

The central bank said uncertainty had increased toward the behavior of external demand and prices of basic goods, despite the expected higher growth for Colombia's trading partners.

Economic growth of Colombia was weak during the first quarter of 2017, the regulator added. The country's economy grew only 1.1% during the period, below the central bank's projected growth of 1.3%.

Banco de la República also pointed to increased weakness in economic activity and a looming risk for Colombia to suffer an economic deceleration beyond the one caused by the fall in oil prices in its decision, which was approved by four of seven board directors. Three of the outlying board members had voted for a 50-basis-point drop.

The bank also cut the benchmark rate April 28, giving similar arguments for its decision.