Colombia’s consumer price index rose less than expected last month as housing prices fell and food inflation was low.
The consumer price index rose 0.04% in July from a month earlier, the government’s statistics agency, known as DANE, said Monday. That was lower than the 0.11% rise in price economists were expecting, and it puts 12-month trailing inflation at 2.22%, well within the central bank’s 2% to 4% target range.
Colombia has seen persistently low price increases amid a slowing economy that’s crimped consumer demand for goods and services. With little pressure on prices, the central bank could reduce its benchmark interest rate further this year in a bid to spur economic activity, although analysts say the current, key lending rate of 3.25% is already low enough to foster higher growth.
Most economists expect the bank to keep rates unchanged until 2014, when rate increases begin assuming the economy picks up.
Housing prices fell 0.38% last month, while food prices, the sector carrying the most weight in the CPI, rose 0.21%. Entertainment prices saw the highest increases, rising 1.3%.
The moderate inflation last month suggests consumer price increases could end this year similar to last year, when inflation ended at 2.44%.
Colombia’s oil- and coal-driven economy expanded at a 4% clip in 2012, down from 6.6% growth in 2011 as global prices fell for many of the commodities that Colombia produces. During the first quarter of this year, the economy slowed further, to a 2.8% on-year rise.