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

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

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

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

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

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

The International Monetary Fund said in a report this week that Belarus needed to tighten rather than loosen monetary policy in order to rein in inflation.

Consumer price growth picked up in August, going over 2.0 percent 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 Aleksander Lukashenko since 1994, slipped into crisis last year after the government went on a spending spree in 2010 ahead of presidential elections.

The central bank was forced to raise the benchmark rate to 45 percent after a devaluation of the Belarussian rouble drove annual consumer price growth above 100 percent.

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

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

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

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