(Adds clarification on unanimous decision, analyst comment)
MEXICO CITY, April 4 Most of Mexico's central
bankers think that a spike in inflation has likely passed, while
the majority said short-term risks to growth would push them to
cut their growth outlook, minutes released on Friday showed.
Central Bank board members voted at their March 31 meeting
to hold their benchmark interest rate at a record
low of 3.50 percent.
The minutes did not specify if the decision was unanimous or
not, a rare omission for the bank. The central bank later issued
a statement clarifying that the decision was unanimous, 5-0.
Most policymakers said that the risks of higher inflation
had receded marginally, while the majority thought the bank
would have to revise down its current growth outlook of between
3 percent and 4 percent for 2014.
"The majority of board members thought that the balance of
risks to growth had deteriorated, on the margin," the minutes
said, with most board members adding that recent economic
reforms improved the medium-term growth outlook.
Analysts expect the bank will hold borrowing costs steady
this year as the economy recovers from a weak start to 2014.
"The minutes confirm that the economic environment does not
suggest an imminent change in monetary policy," Barclays analyst
Marco Oviedo said in a report. "Growth is the main concern, but
not enough to trigger a reaction."
Most of the policymakers said there was no evidence that
taxes introduced this year were spurring wider price pressures.
Data late last month showed annual inflation fell back below the
bank's 4 percent ceiling in early March.
But some members said taxes could still drive so-called
second round effects on prices, while more global volatility
could hurt the peso and drive up inflation by making imports
Mexico's peso slumped early this year on fears
about less U.S. monetary stimulus and a global sell-off in
emerging markets. But the currency hit a nearly 3-month high on
Friday after solid U.S. jobs data boded well for local exports.
Banco de Mexico Governor Agustin Carstens said on Thursday
that the economy is starting to grow more quickly, while
inflation will head toward 3 percent over the next 18 months.
Since the March 21 decision, data has shown that factory
exports rose at their fastest pace in more than four years,
while March consumer confidence data jumped.
Analysts cut their growth estimates for growth this year to
3.09 percent, a poll from the central bank showed on Thursday.
(Reporting by Michael O'Boyle and Luis Rojas; Editing by Dan