Chile cenbank only considered keeping rates steady - minutes
* Key interest rate on hold at 5 percent since January 2012
* Minutes show neither cut or hike considered in December
* Next rate-setting meeting due on Jan. 17
SANTIAGO, Jan 2 (Reuters) - Chile's central bank did not consider raising or cutting its key lending rate last month against a backdrop of solid growth and controlled inflation, the minutes of December's monetary policy meeting showed on Wednesday.
The bank has kept the rate steady at 5 percent since January 2012, when it was cut to the current level.
Robust domestic demand, a tight labor market and a steady flow of investments have helped Chile's small, export-dependent economy weather slowing demand from top trade partner China and fallout from the euro zone's debt crisis.
Policymakers decided unanimously to hold the Monetary Policy Rate (TPM) unchanged at the Dec. 13 meeting.
"(Keeping the rate on hold) was justified because the TPM's level was within the range of neutral values, allowing time and flexibility to wait and accumulate more information about the evolution of the external situation and its impact on the Chilean economy," the minutes said.
One of the policymakers said the rate would likely stay on hold for now, a view shared by most economic analysts.
Lowering the rate would not sufficiently recognize inflationary risks due to brisk domestic demand, while raising it would be out of step with monetary policy in other countries, the policymaker added.
Chile's next monetary policy meeting is due to take place on Jan. 17.
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