WRAPUP 1-Chile central bank only mulled rate hold in Nov-minutes
* Rate hold was unanimous decision * Cenbank members highlight strong demand, activity * Rate seen on hold in coming months, hiked in 2 years SANTIAGO, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Chile's central bank only considered keeping its benchmark interest rate on hold as an option in November, when it held it steady at 5.0 percent for a 10th consecutive month, as expected, minutes of the meeting showed on Wednesday. The rate remains within a neutral range and the five-member central bank board unanimously decided to keep the rate steady, the minutes of the Nov. 13 meeting said. Globally, in standard central bank parlance, a neutral interest rate, in theory, should neither spur nor curb economic growth, all other factors being equal. Rates have stayed on hold since a cut in January largely because the world's No. 1 copper producer has shown better-than-expected resilience to slowing demand from top trade partner China and fallout from the euro zone's crisis. "Domestically, all of the board members highlighted the strength shown by domestic demand and activity," the minutes said. Chile's small, export-dependent economy expanded 5.7 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, the bank reported last week. It grew a seasonally-adjusted 1.4 percent in the third quarter versus the second quarter, slowing from an upwardly revised 2.0 percent expansion in the second quarter from the first quarter. "Regarding inflation, all the board members agreed that total and core inflation remained in line with the inflation target's tolerance range, despite increased dynamism of activity and demand," minutes added. Chile's consumer price index rose by double what the market expected in October, though inflation in the 12 months to October was 2.9 percent, just below the 3.0 percent midpoint of the central bank's policy horizon target. RATE HIKE SEEN IN TWO YEARS The central bank is seen holding its key interest rate at 5.0 percent again at its monetary policy meeting on Dec. 13, and it is seen at that level in three and six months, the bank's fortnightly poll of traders showed separately on Wednesday. But traders now see the rate inching up to 5.25 percent in 24 months time. The bank's last poll of traders published earlier this month saw the rate at 5.0 percent in three and six months. It did not, however, see a rate hike on the horizon. On inflation, the expectations in Wednesday's poll were that consumer prices would fall 0.1 percent in November, according to the median forecast of 58 traders. Inflation in 12 months is seen at 2.8 percent, still a whisker below the bank's target. Chile's peso currency is seen trading at 480 per U.S. dollar in seven days and three months, the poll said. The peso was trading at 481.60 per dollar in early Wednesday trade.
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