LIMA, July 11 (Reuters) - Peru's central bank held its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 4.25 percent on Thursday for the 26th straight month, as inflation remains moderate and the economy expands near its potential.
All 15 economists surveyed by Reuters had predicted the monetary authority would again keep the rate steady.
The central bank said it could loosen reserve requirements on banks to stimulate the economy, as weak global growth continues to affect the Andean country's mineral exports.
'Current and preliminary indicators of productive activity show Peruvian economic growth close to its long-term sustainable level, though indicators linked to external markets still show a weak performance, affecting prices and volumes of exports,' the central bank said in a statement.
The central bank and government have forecast robust economic growth this year of around 6 percent, despite a disappointing expansion of 4.8 percent in the first quarter when mineral shipments declined on slipping metal prices.
Peru's economy surged 7.65 percent in April compared with the same month a year ago, the strongest monthly expansion in nearly two years.
In June consumer prices rose 0.26 percent, leaving inflation for the last 12 months at 2.77 percent, around the upper limit of the central bank's target range of 1 to 3 percent.
The central bank said it expects inflation to slow to 2 percent in coming months as supply conditions for food products improve.
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.
The economy grew 6.3 percent last year, one of the fastest paces in Latin America.
Peru is a leading global producer of gold, silver, copper, zinc and tin. Mining has traditionally powered the economy, but growth in recent years has been led by strong domestic demand.
(Reporting by Mitra Taj and Marco Aquino; Editing by Carol Bishopric, Toni Reinhold) Keywords: PERU ECONOMY/RATE
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