December 20, 2016 / 9:46 PM / 9 months ago

Argentina central bank keeps key rate unchanged for 3rd straight week

BUENOS AIRES, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Argentina’s central bank kept its benchmark 35-day interest rate at 24.75 percent for the third week in a row on Tuesday, saying inflation was falling closer to its target.

The bank has a goal of average monthly inflation of 1.5 percent for the final three months of 2016 and said it was close to completing that goal, even though consumer prices rose 2.4 percent in October and 1.6 percent in November.

“Considering that monetary policy operates with delays and that the information available confirms the bank is close to meeting its inflation target for the final quarter, this institution focuses on monetary policy that will comply with its inflation target for 2017,” the statement said.

The bank raised eyebrows among economists when it lowered rates for four straight weeks starting Nov. 8.

A central bank survey in early December showed economists’ inflation expectations for 2017 rose to 20.2 percent. The bank is targeting inflation of up to 17 percent next year.

Inflation is expected to finish 2016 at around 40 percent. (Reporting by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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