MEXICO CITY, April 26 (Reuters) - Mexican factory exports rose in March for the second month in a row, the national statistics agency said on Friday, tempering expectations for slower growth in the first quarter.
Mexico's central bank is expected to keep interest rates on hold at 4 percent at 0900 local (1400 GMT) but analysts will be looking for signs that further easing is likely later in the year, after a 50 basis point reduction in March.
Manufactured exports rose 3.18 percent last month from February when adjusted for seasonal swings, bolstered by a strong rise in auto exports.
U.S. demand for Mexican-made exports, such as cars and TVs, helped bolster the economy last year amid sluggish global activity, but Mexican economic growth is widely seen slowing to about 3.5 percent rate this year from 3.9 percent in 2012 and other data for the first quarter have been weak.
A rise in the peso against the dollar, up 6 percent so far this year, makes Mexican goods more expensive in the United States, which buys almost 80 percent of its exports.
Still, the data showed total exports rose 1.58 percent in the month, with oil exports falling 9.01 percent.
Imports rose 1.23 percent in March compared with February. Imports of non-oil consumer goods picked up but imports of intermediate goods and capital goods, which are signals of future output, both fell.
Mexico posted a $456 million trade deficit in March when adjusted for seasonal swings.
In non-seasonally adjusted terms, Mexico posted a trade surplus of $1.714 billion.
(Reporting by Krista Hughes Editing by W Simon) Keywords: MEXICO ECONOMY/TRADE
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