September 24, 2018 / 1:50 PM / 9 months ago

UPDATE 1-Mexico inflation rises less than expected in early Sept

(Recasts with annual rate)

MEXICO CITY, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Mexican annual inflation rose less than expected in early September, official data showed on Monday, supporting bets that the central bank will leave interest rates steady next week.

Inflation in the 12 months through the first half of September rose 4.88 percent, the national statistics agency said. That was below estimates in a Reuters poll for a 4.98 percent increase, but up from 4.81 percent in early August.

Mexico’s central bank is expected by most economists to leave its benchmark interest rate steady at a more than nine-year high next week, but some analysts think policymakers could hike rates, according to a poll by Banamex last week.

The country’s closely watched annual core inflation rate, which strips out some volatile food and energy prices, was also up less than expected, at 3.56 percent in early September versus expectations for 3.63 percent rise.

Consumer prices rose 0.22 percent during the first half of September compared with the prior month, while the core index climbed 0.19 percent. (Reporting by Michael O’Boyle; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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