LIMA, June 13 (Reuters) - Peru's central bank held its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 4.25 percent for the 25th straight month on Thursday, as inflation remains low and the economy grows at a relatively healthy pace.
All 13 economists surveyed by Reuters had predicted the monetary authority would again keep the rate steady.
The decision to hold came as the central bank, government and economists said they still expected growth of at least 6 percent this year despite a disappointing first quarter, when the economy expanded 4.8 percent from the same period a year earlier.
In May consumer prices rose 0.19 percent, leaving inflation for the last 12 months at 2.46 percent, which is within the central bank's target range of 1 percent to 3 percent.
'Current and leading economic indicators show economic growth in Peru near its sustainable rate over the long term, even though indicators linked to external markets still show weak performance that affects prices and volumes of exports,' the central bank said in a statement.
The economy expanded 3 percent in March from the same month a year ago, prompting the government to vow to redouble efforts to attract investments to the Andean nation.
Central Bank President Julio Velarde has said the economy appears to have returned to a robust pace in April with growth likely around 7.4 percent on the year.
Peru's potential growth rate, the maximum rate the economy can expand without provoking excessive inflation, is normally seen around 6 percent or 6.5 percent.
Peru's economy expanded 6.3 percent in all of 2012, one of the fastest paces in Latin America.
A similar expansion is expected this year, though slipping metal prices and a tough global economy threaten to deflate those expectations, especially as Peru's trade surplus slips.
Peru is a leading global producer of gold, silver, copper, zinc and tin.
Mineral exports have traditionally powered Peru's economy, but growth in Peru in the past few years has been led by strong domestic demand and loans for everything from cars to new houses.
(Reporting By Terry Wade and Patricia Velez; Editing by Toni Reinhold) Keywords: PERU ECONOMY/CENTRALBANK
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