“If the U.S. economy does well, it favors the perspective that the inflow of dollars from export sales will remain high,” Álvaro Camáro, chief analyst at Stanford Financial Group’s unit in Bogotá told Bloomberg television. He said the peso also gained on speculation Colombian central bankers will raise the overnight lending rate as soon as next month to curb inflation.The peso jumped 1.5 percent to 1,740 per U.S. dollar at 4:26 p.m. in New York, its lowest since July 1, 1999, according to the Colombian foreign-exchange electronic transactions system, known as SET-FX.U.S. gross domestic product expanded 0.9 percent in the first quarter, compared with an earlier estimate of 0.6 percent issued in April, the Commerce Department said today. The U.S. is Colombia’s biggest trade partner, buying about 40 percent of its exports.The peso also gained after financial news service Primera Pagina cited Gerardo Hernandez, secretary to the central bank’s board, as saying the government is planning to issue a decree that would give foreigners more options to invest in the country. Hernandez later told Bloomberg News that the proposal wouldn’t be implemented amid the peso’s current rally.”What has been discussed is to allow for other investment vehicles, such as private investment funds, to broaden what we have now which is portfolio or foreign direct investment,” Hernandez said. “This is not a proper time for this measure to be adopted. It would happen when there is the right exchange rate climate.”The peso has advanced 16 percent this year, the most among six Latin American currencies tracked by Bloomberg, as the widening gap between U.S. and Colombian benchmark rates lured investment to the South American country’s fixed-income market. Colombia’s key rate is 7.75 percentage points higher than the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target, the biggest gap since July 2001.Annual inflation will quicken to 5.8 percent in May from 5.73 percent a month earlier, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 18 economists. The National Statistics Agency is slated to release the monthly report on June 1. The central bank targets inflation between 3.5 percent and 4.5 percent this year.Banco de la Republica last week left the benchmark rate at a six-year high of 9.75 percent. The bank’s next policy meeting is June 27.”Inflation is still a problem and the central bank’s tendency is geared more toward raising rates than cutting them any time soon,” Camáro said. “Should inflation come in higher than expected this month, policy makers may raise rates again as early as June.”The yield on Colombia’s benchmark 11 percent bonds due July 2020 rose 6 basis points, or 0.06 percentage point, to 11.37 percent, according to Colombia’s stock exchange. The bonds’ price fell 0.347 centavo to 97.546 centavos per peso. The price earlier dropped to 97.371, its lowest since April 3.
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