Bank of Colombia

Claire Jones

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Colombia raised rates 25bp late on Friday, the first rise since the financial crisis. The move, which took markets by surprise, takes the Bank’s key intervention rate to 3.25 per cent, compared with 10 per cent before the cuts began. Colombia also said it would continue its $20m-a-day dollar purchasing programme, through which it is trying to dampen appreciation of the Colombian peso.

Peru, meanwhile, yesterday raised its reserve requirement ratio for the second time in two months. The quarter-point rise applies to sol- and dollar- denominated bank reserves and is intended “to keep inflation expectations anchored within the 1 percent to 3 percent target range,” the bank said in a statement, according to Bloomberg. Peru also raised rates in January and February, taking the key rate from 3 to 3.5 per cent since the start of the year.

Rising inflation expectations might push Colombia’s central bank to raise rates from their record low. Minutes released today said that short-term expectations were in the upper half of their target range, while long-term expectations (5 to 10 years) “surpassed the ceiling of that range”. The bullish sentiment was tempered, however, by uncertainty:

The points [the members of the Board] stressed as being fundamental for an eventual hike in the intervention interest rate are, among others, growing upward inflation expectations above the target range, the important momentum in internal demand, high asset prices, and the accelerated build-up in lending.On the other hand, low core inflation levels and the recent relative stability in prices for non-tradable goods, excluding food and regulated items, the possible temporary nature of the increase in food prices, the unstable situation with respect to the sovereign debt of several European countries, and the lack of certainty surrounding the forecasts for inflation and growth in the months ahead were underscored as factors in favor of keeping the rate at its present level.