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Chile Banker Says Intervention for Special Circumstances

Chile can intervene in the foreign exchange market under extraordinary circumstances, central banker Enrique Marshall said today, declining to say if policy makers are considering restarting a U.S. dollar-buying program.

“The central bank reserves the right to intervene when circumstances merit,” he told reporters in Punta del Este, Uruguay. “If there is an intervention, it’s for special or extraordinary circumstances, and when an announcement is made the operation begins right away. Clues aren’t given ahead of time.”

Chile’s fruit producers’ federation, known as Fedefruta, has asked the central bank to take steps to weaken the peso, and Deputy Finance Minister Julio Dittborn said last month that the bank should consider intervening.

The peso yesterday appreciated through 475 per dollar for the second time since September before slumping 1.4 percent to close today at 481.68. The currency has gained 7.9 percent this year as the price of Chile’s biggest export, copper, has risen.

The central bank last year bought $12 billion in an effort to stem currency gains and augment international reserves.

Flows of capital into Latin America are volatile and could reverse direction, Marshall said.

Colombia started buying at least $20 million a day to weaken its currency on Feb. 6, while Brazil’s central bank bought dollars in the currency forwards market on Feb. 3 for the first time since July.

Fiscal discipline could help restrain the appreciation of regional currencies, said Marshall, who is in Punta del Este for a meeting of economists and International Monetary Fund officials to discuss financial regulation.

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