IMF raises Colombia growth prediction to 3.5 pct for this year

BOGOTA, March 8 (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund raised its 2019 economic growth prediction for Colombia to 3.5 percent on Friday and said the country's recovery is gaining momentum despite slowing global expansion.

Growth in the Andean country has been "underpinned by strong private consumption and a long-awaited recovery in business investment as policies have remained supportive," the international body said in a statement at the end of a visit in Bogota.

The estimate for this year's expansion is up from a previous figure of 3.3 percent. The body predicts growth in 2020 will be 3.6 percent.

The central bank has long held the benchmark interest rate at 4.25 percent and may hold borrowing costs for the rest of the year following unexpectedly low inflation figures, analysts say.

The government estimates growth will reach 3.6 percent this year. (Reporting by Carlos Vargas and Julia Symmes Cobb Editing by Bill Trott)