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Chile Economic Growth May Surpass 6%, Finance Minister Says

May 5 (Bloomberg) -- Chile’s economy may expand more than 6 percent this year after data for March showed the country is on “a robust growth trend,” Finance Minister Felipe Larrain said.

Chileans are feeling the benefits of growth of almost 10 percent in the first quarter, with real salaries rising “significantly,” Larrain told reporters today in Santiago.

Chile’s economy grew a record 15.2 percent in March from a year earlier, when the country was recovering from an 8.8-magnitude earthquake, the central bank said on its website today. The economy expanded 0.3 percent from the previous month on a seasonally adjusted basis on gains in the manufacturing, retail, transport and aquaculture industries, the bank said.

The peso fell 0.4 percent to 467.92 per U.S. dollar at 10:06 a.m. New York time.

Chile’s economy grew 9.7 percent in the three months through March, the fastest quarterly pace in more than a decade, according to Bloomberg calculations based on central bank data.

Economic growth will slow in coming quarters as monetary and fiscal policies become less expansive, the International Monetary Fund said in a May 3 report on Latin America and the Caribbean.

Output in South America’s fifth-largest economy will rise 5.9 percent in 2011 and 4.9 percent next year, the Washington-based lender said.

Chile’s central bank has raised its benchmark interest rate at 10 of its last 11 meetings from a record-low 0.5 percent to today’s 4.5 percent. Policy makers will continue to remove the monetary stimulus in coming months, the bank said in a statement accompanying its April decision.

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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