Colombia's economy grew modestly in 2023 as rate-cut calls grow


By Nelson Bocanegra and Carlos Vargas

BOGOTA, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Colombia's economy grew just 0.6% last year, the government's DANE statistics agency said on Thursday, boosted by growth in the finance and entertainment sectors, but below the 1.1% expansion forecast by economists in a Reuters poll.

Growth was 0.3% in the fourth quarter, compared to the same period a year earlier, said Piedad Urdinola, DANE's director.

The quarterly growth was also below the 1% forecast in the Reuters poll published last week.

The country's economic expansion in 2023 was tied to the financial and insurance industries, which expanded 7.9%, while entertainment and artistic activities grew 7.0%.

The central bank launched a loosening monetary cycle in December, with a 25-basis-point cut to the benchmark interest rate. It repeated that move last month, bringing the rate to 12.75%, in a bid to bolster the economic recovery.

The government expects the economy to grow by 1.5% this year, while the International Monetary Fund sees expansion of 1.3% in Latin America's fourth-largest economy. The central bank has forecast growth of 0.8%.

(Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra and Carlos Vargas; Writing by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Paul Simao)

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