* reuters://realtime/verb=Open/url=cpurl://apps.cp./Apps/cb-polls?RIC=MXCBIR%3DECI Poll data (Adds analyst’s comments, background)
MEXICO CITY, Aug 12 (Reuters) - The Mexican central bank is expected to hold its benchmark interest rate steady on Thursday, according to a Reuters poll, even as analysts increasingly brace for a possible rate cut to lift the country’s misfiring economy.
Eleven of the 16 analysts and economists surveyed by Reuters said they expect the Bank of Mexico (Banxico) to keep the key lending rate at 8.25%, the level it has maintained since Dec. 20.
Banxico has not cut rates since June 2014.
Those who see a rate hold believe a weakening peso will prompt Mexican policymakers to decouple from the U.S. Federal Reserve, which cut its target interest rate on July 31 by a quarter of a percentage point.
“The peso’s recent adjustment is likely to prompt some caution on the part of the governing board, especially given some continuing risks to financial stability,” Banorte said in a report.
The peso has depreciated more than 2% over the last four weeks on concerns about the global economy as the United States and China dig in their heels for what could be a protracted trade war.
Still, five of the 16 analysts and economists polled by Reuters said they expect Banxico to cut the key rate by 25 basis points, a move which could help boost the struggling Mexican economy after its paltry 0.1% growth in the second quarter.
Also, Mexican consumer prices rose 3.78% in the year through July, as the pace of inflation slowed for a third straight month, raising the odds of an interest rate cut.
Banxico’s board struck a cautious tone at its last monetary policy meeting on June 27, but one member voted for a rate cut and another said that if inflation continues to soften, cuts would be needed relatively soon.
Banxico will publish its monetary policy statement on Thursday at 1 p.m. local time (1800 GMT). (Reporting by Noe Torres in Mexico City and Gabriel Burin in Buenos Aires; Additional reporting by Miguel Angel Gutierrez; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Richard Chang)