Chile Economists See Key Rate on Hold at 5% Until Next Year

Chilean economists expect policy makers to hold off on raising the benchmark interest rate this year, after forecasting monetary tightening by December in a poll published last month.

Policy makers will keep the key rate unchanged at 5 percent through December before raising it a quarter point at the start of 2014, according to a monthly survey posted on the central bank website today. Last month’s poll showed analysts expected rates to reach 5.25 percent by December after staying on hold for the first five months of 2013.

Since the last survey was released Jan. 10, economic growth has slowed and manufacturing output has contracted. While the inflation rate will climb this year, it won’t exceed the bank’s target range of 2 percent to 4 percent, according to today’s central bank poll.

Gross domestic product will increase 4.9 percent in 2013 from the previous year and 5 percent in 2014, according to today’s survey. Analysts polled by Bloomberg estimate GDP increased 5.45 percent in 2012.

Economic growth as measured by the Imacec index, which is a proxy for GDP, expanded 4.7 percent in December after growing 5.5 percent in November. Manufacturing output fell 2.5 percent in December from the previous year.

Annual inflation will accelerate to 3 percent in 11 months from 1.6 percent in January and 1.5 percent in December, according to today’s central bank poll.

The peso fell by less than 0.1 percent to 472.50 per U.S. dollar at 8:43 a.m. Santiago time. Chile’s currency will trade at 475 per dollar in two months, according to the median estimate of 49 analysts in today’s poll.

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