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Philippines' Sept annual inflation eases to 3.6 pct

MANILA, Oct 5 (Reuters) - The Philippines' annual inflation rate was 3.6 percent in September, below market forecasts and slowing from the previous month's annual rate of 3.8 percent, the statistics office said on Friday.

The central bank had forecast an inflation rate of between 3.4 percent to 4.3 percent. A Reuters poll had forecast the rate as 3.8 percent, unchanged from August.

Change in pct Sept Aug July June May Apr Mar Headline (yr/yr) 3.6 3.8 3.2 2.8 2.9 3.0 2.6

Headline (mth/mth) -0.1 0.8 0.3 0.5 0.1 0.8 0.2

Core (yr/yr) 3.8 4.3 4.1 3.7 3.7 3.6 3.0 KEY POINTS:

- The central bank, which has a 3 to 5 percent target band for inflation in 2012 and 2013, has forecast average inflation of 3.4 percent this year and 4.1 percent next year.

- The Philippine central bank governor, Amando Tetangco, told Reuters last week that stimulus currently in place was sufficient to support domestic growth, but policy can be eased if needed later this year.

- The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, which next meets on Oct. 25 to review policy, has kept its overnight borrowing rate at a record low 3.75 percent following three cuts this year - the last in July - totaling 75 basis points. The cuts were aimed at shielding the economy against external shocks.

- The Philippine economy expanded 6.1 percent in the first six months from a year earlier. Policymakers are optimistic that growth will hit the higher end of a 5 to 6 percent target for 2012, with strong domestic demand likely to offset weakening shipments of electronics, the main export earner.

- Economists have said there was scope to ease policy further to dampen rapid peso appreciation and curtail speculative inflows.

- The Philippine peso

is the best performing currency among emerging Asian economies, with gains of about 5.5 percent against the dollar this year.

(Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Rosemarie Francisco)

((karen.lema@thomsonreuters.com)(+632 841-8938)(Reuters Messaging: karen.lema.reuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: PHILIPPINES ECONOMY/INFLATION