UPDATE 1-Mexico early March inflation at 3.71%, above central bank's target again

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MEXICO CITY, March 24 (Reuters) - Mexican consumer prices rose 3.71% in the year through the first half of March, remaining above the central bank’s 3.0% target, data from the national statistics agency showed on Tuesday.

The median forecasts of 15 analysts and economists polled by Reuters was for inflation to have dipped to a rate of 3.72% in the first half of March, from 3.87% in the second half of February.

Prices rose 0.11% during the first half of March.

The closely watched core price index, which strips out some volatile food and energy prices, climbed 0.16% in early March. Annual core inflation reached 3.60%, which is below the forecast of 3.63%.

Mexico’s central bank on Friday announced its biggest rate cut in six years in an out-of-cycle move, and pledged support for the financial markets as part of more aggressive measures to cushion the economy from the coronavirus fallout.

The Bank of Mexico, which cut the benchmark interest rate 50 basis points to 6.50%, said there was heightened uncertainty about the inflation outlook, with risks both on the downside and the upside, along with increased slack in the economy.

Reporting by Anthony Esposito Editing by Nick Zieminski