UPDATE 1-Belarus cbank to halt rate cuts as rouble wobbles

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MINSK, Oct 10 (Reuters) - The Belarus central bank, whichhas cut its benchmark interest rate at least once a month so farthis year, will not do so again this month in order to prevent arun on the rouble , its head Nadezhda Yermakova said onWednesday.

After a currency crisis last year that forced the bank tojack up interest rates, the refinancing rate still stands at 30percent even after a series of reductions.

Yermakova's comments come amid a new round of pressure onthe rouble which she said monetary tightening would ease. Thecurrency weakened to 8,630 per dollar by Wednesday from 8,430 amonth ago.

"Companies are repaying foreign currency loans early,companies do not sell foreign currency beyond mandatory volumes,the population is converting rouble deposits into foreigncurrency ones," state news agency BelTA quoted the central bankchief as saying.

"We are carrying out a tight rouble policy to reduce demandfrom companies (for foreign currency). If the central bank keepsits policy tight, everything will calm down."

The International Monetary Fund said in a report this weekthat Belarus needed to tighten rather than loosen monetarypolicy in order to rein in inflation.

Consumer price growth picked up in August, going over 2.0percent in month-on-month terms for the first time this year,before easing to 1.3 percent in September.

The former Soviet republic, run by President AleksanderLukashenko since 1994, slipped into crisis last year after thegovernment went on a spending spree in 2010 ahead ofpresidential elections.

The central bank was forced to raise the benchmark rate to45 percent after a devaluation of the Belarussian roubledrove annual consumer price growth above 100 percent.

The country managed to avoid a full-scale economic collapsethanks largely to Russia, which provided about $5 billion inloans and investments in exchange for access to key industrialassets such as pipelines pumping Russian gas to Europe.

This year, authorities aim to keep inflation below 22percent.

(Reporting by Andrei Makhovsky; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov;editing by Patrick Graham)

((olzhas.auyezov@thomsonreuters.com)(+380 44 244 9150))