February 22, 2018 / 2:36 PM / 9 months ago

UPDATE 1-Mexico consumer prices up less than expected in early Feb

 (Recasts with expectations, adds background)
    MEXICO CITY, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Mexican consumer prices rose
less than expected in early February, official data showed on
Thursday, easing pressure on the central bank to keep hiking
interest rates.
    The pace of consumer price gains in the 12 months through
the first half of February              slowed to 5.45 percent,
the national statistics agency said.
    That was less than a 5.50 percent inflation rate projected
in a Reuters poll and down from 5.51 percent in the first half
of January.
    The annual core rate             , which strips out some
volatile food and energy prices, was down to 4.32 percent for
the first half of February from 4.63 percent in early January,
in line with expectations.
    Earlier this month, Mexico's central bank raised interest
rates to a nine-year high and said it could act again, if
needed, to contain worries that inflation may not cool as
quickly as forecast.             
    Minutes from that Feb. 8 decision will be issued later on
Thursday, providing some more clues on whether policymakers
think they may need to keep raising borrowing costs. 
     Month-on-month, consumer prices rose 0.20 percent during
the first half of February            , while the core price
index              climbed 0.30 percent in early February.

 (Reporting by Michael O'Boyle; editing by Jonathan Oatis)
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