MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican annual inflation likely accelerated in the first half of February after slowing during the past eight weeks, a Reuters poll showed Monday, reinforcing expectations that the country’s central bank would continue raising rates in line with the U.S. Federal Reserve.
The consensus forecast of 12 analysts surveyed was for inflation to grow to 7.17% from 7.01% in late January. If the prediction is correct, it would be the first increase since late November, when inflation hit a 20-year high.
The core rate of inflation, which strips out some volatile food and energy items, was seen accelerating to 6.46%, which would be the highest rate since August 2001.
The Bank of Mexico targets inflation of 3%, with a one percentage point tolerance range above and below that. Earlier this month the bank raised its benchmark interest rate for the sixth consecutive time, citing inflation.
Its next monetary policy decision is scheduled for March 24, a week after the United States’ Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates after years of sitting near zero.
Compared to the previous month, Mexican consumer prices are estimated to have increased by 0.40% in the first half of February with the core price index seen advancing 0.35%.
Mexico’s national statistics agency will publish the latest inflation data on Thursday morning.
(Reporting by Noe Torres; Additional reporting by Gabriel Burin in Buenos Aires; Writing by Kylie Madry; Editing by Andrea Ricci)