* Israeli shekel, inflation: bit.ly/2outGWh (Adds details)
JERUSALEM, April 20 (Reuters) - All four interest rate setters at Israel’s central bank voted to keep the benchmark rate at 0.1 percent on April 6, where it has been for more than two years, minutes of the discussions showed on Thursday.
Policymakers focused much of the discussion on Israel’s low inflation environment, according to the minutes, and agreed that this was not an indication of weak demand but a reflection of the continued appreciation of the shekel.
The committee members took the view that the economy grew at a solid pace in the first quarter, and “that it is even likely that there was a step up in the rate of growth.”
They also noted a possible adverse impact to exports due to the shekel’s appreciation, and concern of a possible slowdown in the rate of expansion of credit from banks, a slowdown they said is liable to negatively impact the expansion of private consumption.
There was also a small change in the committee’s forward guidance provided to the public to include reference to their intention “to maintain the accommodative policy as long as necessary in order to entrench the inflation environment within the target range”.
Three of four committee members supported the change, with the fourth arguing that they should not “link the conduct of monetary policy in the future exclusively to the inflation path”. (Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Tova Cohen and Hugh Lawson)