December 27, 2016 / 10:37 PM / 8 months ago

Argentina central bank keeps key rate unchanged for 4th straight week

BUENOS AIRES, Dec 27 (Reuters) - Argentina's central bank kept its benchmark 35-day interest rate at 24.75 percent for the fourth week in a row on Tuesday, saying inflation was falling closer to its target.

That marked its final rate decision of 2016, which saw interest rates as high as 38 percent earlier in the year in a bid to combat inflation. Economists project inflation ending the year at 40 percent. The central bank is targeting inflation between 12 and 17 percent in 2017, though economists see it reaching 20.2 percent.

The bank has a goal of average monthly inflation of 1.5 percent for the final three months of 2016.

In a statement, the central bank said average monthly inflation was below 1.5 percent between July and November, and said December inflation would likely be lower than that, meaning the central bank would achieve its goal. Consumer prices rose 2.4 percent in October and 1.6 percent in November.

Next week, the central bank will change its reference rate from the interest rate on 35-day Lebac securities to the 7-day interbank lending rate, and will now auction off Lebac once a month rather than every week. (Reporting by Luc Cohen; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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