Chile Economists See Faster Rate Increase as Economy Expands

Chilean economists forecast a faster pace of monetary tightening than they did a month ago as they increased their economic growth estimates.

Policy makers will keep the key rate unchanged at today’s 5 percent through the end of 2013 before raising it a half-point within 23 months, according to a monthly survey posted on the central bank website today. Analysts last month forecast only a quarter-point increase over that time frame.

Since the last survey was conducted on Feb. 11, economic growth data exceeded estimates made by analysts even as inflation slowed to 1.3 percent from 1.6 percent in January. While the inflation rate will increase in 11 months to 3 percent, it won’t exceed the bank’s target range of 2 percent to 4 percent for the coming 23 months, according to the poll.

Gross domestic product will rise 5 percent in 2013, analysts said in today’s survey, increasing their previous forecast of 4.9 percent growth. The Imacec index, a proxy for GDP, climbed 6.7 percent in January from last year, beating by more than 1 percentage point estimates in the February central bank survey.

The peso, which has gained 0.5 percent against the U.S. dollar in the past three months, fell 0.1 percent to 472.23 per dollar at 8:36 a.m. local time. The peso will trade at 475 in two months, according to the median estimate of 55 analysts in today’s poll.

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