Industrial production rose 1.35 percent compared with 15.26 percent in the 2007 first quarter, the government said. In March industrial output fell 9.43 percent from the same month a year earlier when it registered growth of 15 percent over a year earlier. Those figures reflect stalling consumption and internal demand as the central bank tightens monetary policy. The bank has raised its benchmark interest rate 375 basis points to 9.75 percent since April 2006 in an attempt to ease inflation as the Andean country’s economy grows at its strongest pace in three decades. Colombian retail sales rose 2.77 percent in the first quarter compared with a year ago, but were up less than 1 percent in March versus the same month a year earlier, the state statistics agency DANE said in a statement. By contrast, retail sales in March 2007 grew 19.3 percent over the same month the previous year. In the first three months of 2007 retail sales grew 16.4 percent over the year-earlier period. Colombia’s economy grew 7.52 percent in 2007 as the country benefited from more security and growing foreign investment under President Alvaro Uribe. The economy is forecast to grow 5 to 6 percent this year, the central bank says.
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