Chilean Economy Grew Faster-Than-Forecast 5.2% in March

Chile’s economy expanded a faster- than-forecast 5.2 percent in March from the previous year on gains in the retail, corporate service and power generation industries, the central bank said.

The median estimate of 16 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for the economy to expand 4.3 percent in March. The economy grew 0.9 percent in March from the previous month on a seasonally-adjusted basis, the central bank said today in a report posted on its website.

Chile’s economy, as measured by the bank’s Imacec index that serves as a proxy for gross domestic product, expanded 5.6 percent in the first quarter from last year, according to calculations made by Bloomberg. Growth rates will slow this year on lower gains in exports and investments, Mario Arend, chief economist at Celfin Capital SA, wrote May 2.

“With our forecasts for slowing growth rates in coming months, we do not foresee any major sources of price pressure on core CPIs this year,” Arend wrote in a report for investors. “At the same time, we see an appreciated peso as compensating for increases in the price of non-tradable.”

The peso fell 0.2 percent to 484.40 per U.S. dollar at 8:40 a.m. Santiago time. Chile’s currency has gained 7.3 percent against the dollar so far this year, and inflation has surpassed the upper limit of the central bank’s 2 percent to 4 percent target range in three of the past four months.

Exports in the world’s top copper producer will climb 4.3 percent in 2012 after growing 4.6 percent last year as the average price of copper dips to $3.67 a pound from $3.99 a pound in 2011, according to Celfin forecasts. GDP growth will slow to 4.6 percent this year from 6 percent in 2011, it said.

Chile had a trade surplus of $1.05 billion in April on $6.9 billion of exports and $5.85 billion of imports, the central bank said in a report posted on its website today.

The Andean nation exported $3.58 billion of copper in April.

The median estimate of 12 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for a trade surplus of $650 million.

To contact the reporter on this story: Randall Woods in Santiago at rwoods13@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net.

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