EXCLUSIVE-Premature to talk of Mexico rate cuts before mid 2018 -Carstens

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MEXICO CITY, July 13 (Reuters) - Mexico's central bank could pause its monetary policy tightening cycle for some time, its governor said on Thursday, but he knocked down market speculation there would be interest rate cuts before mid 2018.

Banco de Mexico Governor Agustin Carstens said talk among private economists that rates would be reduced early next year diverged from the bank's view, which was that it would take some time to consolidate inflation toward its 3 percent target.

Carstens told Reuters it was likely the bank would pause a run of seven consecutive base rate hikes at its next policy meeting on Aug. 10, firming up language used in the last monetary policy statement.

"That pause may last, but to anticipate that early next year we will start reducing rates, that is running too far ahead. The board has not been discussing that," he said in an interview at the bank's Art Deco headquarters in Mexico City.

The bank's board raised interest rates a quarter percentage-point to 7.00 percent at last month's meeting, with one member voting to hold them steady.

Monetary policy is at its tightest since early 2009, with 400 basis points of hikes since the end of 2015. Inflation is at a more than eight-year high.

Capital Economics on Thursday forecast cuts in the policy rate at the start of 2018 and said it would fall to just over 4 percent by year-end. (Reporting by Anthony Esposito and Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Andrew Hay)