Chilean Economy Grows at Fastest Monthly Pace This Year

Chile’s economy grew at the fastest pace this year in September on gains in the mining and services industries.

The Imacec index, a proxy for gross domestic product, increased 1 percent from the previous month on a seasonally adjusted basis, the quickest expansion since December 2011, the central bank said in a report posted on its website today. The economy grew 4.6 percent from last year, compared with the 3.2 percent median estimate of 12 economists polled by Bloomberg.

Today’s report contradicts recent evidence that economic growth is beginning to slow as global demand weakens. Manufacturing declined 5.6 percent in September from the year before, the biggest drop since the month after the 8.8-magnitude earthquake that struck in 2010, while the unemployment rate rose to 6.5 percent in the three months through September from 6.4 percent through August.

“This was quite a surprise given the manufacturing data we saw last week,” Felipe Jaque, an economist at Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA (BBVA), said by phone from Santiago today. “The deceleration has been a lot slower than expected, which is one of the reasons why the central bank remains in a wait-and-see mode.”

Policy makers left the benchmark interest rate unchanged at 5 percent on Oct. 18 for the ninth consecutive month as the world’s top copper producer combined Latin America’s slowest inflation with some of the region’s fastest growth.

Inflation Outlook

While inflation accelerated in the past two months to 2.8 percent, it still may fall below the central bank forecast of 2.5 percent by December, policy maker Enrique Marshall said in a presentation posted on the bank website last week.

Policy makers forecast GDP will expand 4.75 percent to 5.25 percent this year before growth moderates to 4 percent to 5 percent in 2013. GDP climbed 5.4 percent in the first half of this year and 5.4 percent in the third quarter, according to calculations made by Bloomberg based on the Imacec index.

Chile’s peso, which has gained 7.7 percent against the dollar this year, fell 0.3 percent to 482.46 a dollar at 9:03 a.m. local time.

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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