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Chile January Manufacturing Grew 4.3% as Unemployment Fell

Feb. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Chile’s manufacturing index increased 4.3 percent in January from the previous year, beating economists’ estimates as the unemployment rate unexpectedly declined.

The median estimate of 12 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was for manufacturing to rise 3 percent from last year. Retail sales grew 9.5 percent, compared with the median estimate of 9.8 percent. Unemployment fell to 6 percent in the three months through January after analysts forecast it would remain unchanged from the December rate of 6.1 percent, the National Statistics Institute said in a report published today.

Private consumption and investment drove economic growth in the Andean nation last year, offsetting weaker demand for raw materials and manufactured exports. Manufacturing grew just 2.4 percent in 2012 compared with an 8.8 percent expansion in retail sales.

Policy makers have kept borrowing costs at 5 percent for 13 straight monthly meetings. The key rate will rise to 5.25 percent by March 2014 after remaining unchanged for at least the next six months, according to traders and investors surveyed by the central bank on Feb. 26. Inflation in January accelerated to 1.6 percent from 1.5 percent the month before, which was the slowest in 2 1/2 years.

Gross domestic product climbed 5.7 percent in the third quarter from the previous year as investment leaped 13 percent and private consumption gained 6.4 percent, according to central bank data. GDP expanded 5.7 percent in the second quarter and 5.2 percent in the first, and grew an estimated 5.45 percent for all of 2012, according to analysts polled by Bloomberg.

Copper output in the world’s largest producer of the metal rose 8.6 percent in January from a year earlier to 474,496 metric tons, the institute said. The peso strengthened 0.1 percent to 472.5 per U.S. dollar at 9:04 a.m. local time today.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andre Soliani at asoliani@bloomberg.net

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