Vietnamese to keep key rate at 8 pct as inflation slows

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Vietnam's central bank said it will leave its benchmark interest rate unchanged for July, keeping the measure at the same level since early December, after inflation slowed in June.

The so-called base rate will stay at 8 percent for next month, the State Bank of Vietnam said in a statement on its website Thursday. The benchmark was raised to 8 percent from 7 percent on Dec. 1.

The central bank has been trying to lower interest rates to bolster the economy as the country is aiming for an economic growth rate of 6.5 percent for this year, higher than 5.3 percent in 2009.

Vietnamese inflation decelerated for a third month in June as food prices eased, according to the General Statistics Office in Hanoi. Consumer prices climbed 8.69 percent from a year earlier, after gaining 9.05 percent in May.

The central bank will also keep the refinancing rate at 8 percent and the discount rate at 6 percent, it said in the statement.

Total loans in Vietnam have increased 10.5 percent "until June," the State Bank said in a statement released on June 15. Lending expanded 38 percent in 2009 and the government is targeting 25 percent credit growth this year.

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