Hites Leads Chilean Index to Biggest Gain in 11 Months

Empresas Hites SA, a Chilean department store operator, led gains on the country’s benchmark stock index this month as the gauge posted its biggest advance since February 2012 amid a rally by retailers.

Hites rose 1.5 percent to 498.95 pesos today in Santiago, capping a 22 percent surge in January. It was the biggest increase on the Ipsa index, which climbed 7.5 percent in U.S. dollar terms this month to outperform all stock gauges in the Americas except Argentina’s, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The Chilean economy grew in November at the fastest pace in 11 months, and wages rose three times more than inflation. The higher salaries and low unemployment have contributed to more retail spending, according to Juan Pablo Castillo, an analyst at Santiago-based Banco Penta.

“The retail sector has performed really well,” Castillo said in a telephone interview. “Investors are a little more optimistic with respect to these retail companies.”

The country’s retail industry may grow as much as 6.5 percent this year, he said, citing estimates from the Santiago Chamber of Commerce.

SACI Falabella SA, a retailer that’s the country’s largest publicly traded company, rose 11 percent this month to 5,477.50 pesos, while Ripley Corp SA, another department store operator, gained 12 percent to 509.99 pesos. Cencosud SA, a multi-brand retailer, gained 13 percent in January, reaching 2,927.80 pesos. Hites, Falabella, Ripley and Cencosud are all based in Santiago.