UPDATE 1-Chile November-January jobless rate hits six-year low

Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:46am EST

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By Anthony Esposito

SANTIAGO, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Chile's jobless rate for November to January inched down to 6.0 percent, hitting a six-year low due to increased employment in farming, hotels and restaurants during the southern hemisphere summer, the government's statistics agency said on Thursday.

The unemployment rate was forecast to have remained at 6.1 percent, according to the median response of 11 analysts and economists polled by Reuters.

The rate for November 2011 to January 2012 was 6.6 percent. The last time the jobless rate fell to 6.0 percent was in October-December 2006.

The data reaffirms Chile's brisk economic performance, buoyed by booming domestic demand and firm investment.

The country's central bank has kept its key interest rate on hold since a surprise cut in January 2012 as it weighs this strong local performance against global economic risks.

Also on Thursday, the government announced manufacturing production grew 4.3 percent in January from a year ago chiefly due to growth in the food industry, beating a Reuters forecast.

Chile's small, open economy has generally fared better than expected despite easing commodities demand from top trade partner China and fallout from the euro zone's debt crisis.

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