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Cardenas Sees No Reason to Change Colombia’s Monetary Stance

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May 21 (Bloomberg) -- Colombian Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas said there’s no need to change the country’s monetary stance, as consumer confidence rebounds and growth picks up.

“The unanimous vision of the policy committee at its last meeting was to hold interest rates unchanged,” Cardenas told reporters in Bogota today. “Let’s say that at the moment I don’t see reasons for a change.”

The central bank held its policy rate at 3.25 percent at its April meeting, after cutting it 2 percentage points over the last year. Economists forecast that Colombia will hold the rate unchanged until the end of the 2013, according to the most recent central bank survey of analysts.

The economy expanded about 3 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, down from 3.1 percent growth in the fourth quarter of 2012, Cardenas said. The Finance Ministry now sees growth picking up again, boosted by government measures to bolster the housing sector and a “surprisingly positive” rebound in consumer confidence, Cardenas said.

Consumer confidence jumped the most in nearly two years in April, according to a report published by Fedesarrollo, a Bogota-based think tank. Cardenas reiterated the Finance Ministry’s forecast that the economy will grow 4.8 percent this year.

The central bank’s policy committee, which Cardenas chairs, will hold its next meeting May 31. Cardenas said he will recommend that the central bank buys $750 million per month from June until the end of the year. The bank’s current dollar purchase program, of at least $30 million per day, expires at the end of this month.

The yield on Colombia’s government peso bonds maturing in 2024 rose 1 basis point to 5.03 percent at 11:30 a.m. in Bogota. The peso weakened 0.2 percent to 1846.98 per U.S. dollar.

To contact the reporter on this story: Oscar Medina in Bogota at omedinacruz@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Matthew Bristow at mbristow5@bloomberg.net

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