MEXICO CITY, April 4 (Reuters) - Stronger growth and relatively steady demand for oil should put Mexico on course to balance its budget next year, excluding investment in state-owned oil firm Pemex, the finance ministry's chief economist said on Wednesday.
The finance ministry's latest budget estimates forecast the economy will expand by 3.8 percent in 2013 after projected growth of 3.5 percent this year. Inflation is seen holding around the central bank's target of 3 percent plus or minus a percentage point, Miguel Messmacher told Mexican radio.
The ministry's updated oil price forecast is for an average $90 per barrel this year, up from an original estimate of around $85. Oil prices in the U.S. have recently risen above $100 per barrel. For 2013, the ministry sees an average oil price of $87 per barrel, Messmacher said.
"On public finances, given an expected oil price above that originally approved in the budget, and given slightly higher growth, there shouldn't be any problems fulfilling the economic package approved for this year," Messmacher said.
The finance ministry had initially forecast 3.3 percent for 2012, but subsequently revised that up.
"The likelihood of us ending the year with lower than expected revenue is pretty low," he added. "For next year, consistent with the economic recovery, we are proposing a return to a balanced budget, excluding investment in Pemex."
Mexico's economy grew by 3.9 percent in 2011. (Writing by Simon Gardner; Editing by Andrew Hay)