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POLL-Argentine central bank poll shows higher 2018 inflation expectations

BUENOS AIRES, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Argentine inflation is expected to reach 19.3 percent in 2018, according to the average forecast in the central bank's monthly poll on Friday, up from an average projection of 17 percent given in the same poll published by the bank last month.

The Survey of Market Expectations conducted among analysts between Jan. 29 and 31 showed that the average core inflation forecast for this year rose to 16.8 percent from the previously estimated 14.7 percent.

Experts consulted by the central bank also reduced their growth estimates for Latin America's No. 3 economy to 2.9 percent this year, down from the 3.1 percent estimated in December's survey. The gross domestic product was seen growing 3.1 percent in 2019, below the 3.3 percent previously estimated.

At the end of December the government announced changes in its inflation targets, a decision that gave the central bank room to relax interest rates, a move read by the markets as prioritizing economic growth at the expense of higher inflation.

(Reporting by Eliana Raszewski; Writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Sandra Maler)