(Adds analyst comment)
By Nelson Bocanegra
BOGOTA, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Colombia’s economic growth slowed in the second quarter to a 4.3 percent pace from 4.5 percent a year earlier, failing to meet expectations as mining and manufacturing sectors shrank, the government said on Tuesday.
The deceleration may lead the central bank to hold the benchmark lending rate steady at its policy meeting next week after raising borrowing costs for five straight months.
Gross domestic product contracted 0.1 percent from the first quarter, said the statistics agency, known as DANE. First-quarter growth was revised up to 6.5 percent from 6.4 percent, giving first-half expansion of 5.4 percent.
A Reuters survey of analysts had expected 4.55 percent annual growth and a 0.55 percent uptick against the previous quarter. The central bank saw 4.3 percent growth.
“After this GDP figure and looking at the progress of other economic data, that in general is showing moderation instead of acceleration, I don’t think there will be any surprises that would lead the bank to raise the rate any further this year,” said Andres Pardo, chief economist at financial entity Corficolombiana.
“I don’t think there will be very strong arguments to keep raising the interest rate.”
Other economists, like Felipe Campos from Alianza Valores, see the seven-member central bank board alternating between pauses and rate increases in a bid to prevent inflationary pressure.
“There are elements that suggest that inflationary pressure and a dynamic of economic growth could continue in the second half,” he said.
The Andean economy has been growing over the past year in line with an expansionist monetary policy which had held the benchmark interest rate at 3.25 percent for 13 months until rate hikes began at the end of April. The lending rate currently stands at 4.5 percent.
“I hope that in the remaining two quarters we have satisfactory growth that allows us to expand between 4.5 percent and 5 percent,” President Juan Manuel Santos said after the GDP data was revealed.
The government’s official forecast for full-year growth is 4.7 percent.
The mining and quarry sector shrank 2.2 percent in the quarter from the same period in 2013. Revenue in that sector has declined over the last year as Marxist rebels have stepped up attacks against oil and mining infrastructure.
Manufacturing fell 1.4 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, while construction rose 10.2 percent, financial services accelerated 6.1 percent, retail was up 4.8 percent and agriculture grew 1.6 percent. (Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra; Writing by Helen Murphy and Julia Symmes-Cobb; Editing by David Gregorio and Chizu Nomiyama)