MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican inflation likely slowed very slightly during the first half of April, but remained well above the central bank’s target, a Reuters poll showed on Wednesday, reinforcing bets the monetary authority will continue raising interest rates.

The median forecast of 10 analysts surveyed was for inflation to reach 7.60%, marginally down from 7.62% in the second half of March.

Core inflation, which strips out some volatile food and energy items, was seen climbing to 7.06%, its highest level since January 2001.

The Bank of Mexico, which targets inflation of 3%, with a one percentage point tolerance range above and below that, has increased the benchmark rate by 250 basis points in its last seven monetary policy meetings to 6.50%.

Its next decision is scheduled for May 12.

Analysts have forecast the lending rate could end the year at 8%, according to the central bank’s latest monthly poll.

Compared to the previous two weeks, Mexican consumer prices are predicted to have risen by 0.07%, with core prices seen advancing 0.34%, the poll showed.

Mexico’s national statistics agency will publish consumer price index data for the first 15 days of April on Friday.

(Reporting by Noe Tores; Writing by Valentine Hilaire; Editing by Sandra Maler)