(Adds economist quote, link to text)
SANTIAGO, March 16 Chile's central bank cut the
benchmark interest rate 25 basis points to 3.0
percent at its monthly meeting on Thursday, as expected, and
indicated additional easing could be required.
"The board estimates that, if the recent trends of the
economic scenario persist, and so do their implications on the
medium-term inflation outlook, it could be necessary to increase
the monetary impulse," the bank said, a moderation of its
previous bias for probable short-term stimulus.
The decision is in line with a poll of traders released by
the central bank last week, in which respondents predicted a 25
basis point cut in March and another similar cut within six
Banco BCI economist Antonio Moncado highlighted that in its
post-meeting statement, the bank stuck mainly to pre-established
"What is particularly notable for us is that we see a
relatively factual statement compared to what we've seen in
previous months, which could reveal that there are certain
differences of opinion within the bank's board with respect to
the current macroeconomic scenario," he said.
The March cut was the second by the bank this year. In
January, the bank cut the rate from 3.5 percent to 3.25 percent.
Cooling inflation has given policymakers in the top copper
exporter room to address the nation's sluggish economy.
In a dovish speech earlier in March, Chile's central bank
head, Mario Marcel, said a "more expansive" monetary policy
would be necessary to meet inflation targets.
(Reporting by Gram Slattery and Felipe Iturrieta; Editing by