MEXICO CITY, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Mexico's headline inflation likely sped up slightly in December for the second consecutive month, a Reuters poll showed on Monday, while the closely monitored core rate was expected to continue its descent.
Mexico's central bank, known as Banxico, remains "slightly hawkish" in its monetary policy stance and plans to hold its benchmark interest rate at an all-time high of 11.25% for some time as it waits for inflation to fall back to within the target range of 3% plus or minus one percentage point.
The median forecast of 16 analysts on Monday predicted annual headline inflation MXCPHI=ECI at 4.55% in December, compared to a reading of 4.32% in November.
Core inflation MXCCPI=ECI, which strips out some highly volatile energy and food prices, was seen at 5.15%, which would mark the 11th consecutive monthly drop and be the lowest level since September 2021. It came in at 5.30% in November.
Mexico's national statistics agency will publish official inflation data for December on Tuesday.
Banxico's board members said in minutes of their meeting last month that inflation was expected to reach the central bank's target in the second quarter of 2025.
Analysts polled by Citibanamex projected an initial interest rate cut in March of this year, though central bank board members have warned that any such move should not be interpreted as the beginning of an easing cycle.
On a month-over-month basis, Mexico's consumer prices were seen rising 0.61% in December, with core inflation up 0.50%, according to the Reuters poll. They rose 0.64% and 0.26%, respectively, in the prior month. MXINFL=ECI, MXCPIX=ECI
(Reporting by Noe Torres in Mexico City; Additional reporting by Gabriel Burin in Buenos Aires; Writing by Kylie Madry; Editing by Paul Simao)
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