UPDATE 2-Chile trade surplus shrinks in February

Thu Mar 7, 2013 12:02pm EST

Related Topics

* Fourth consecutive surplus in export-dependent country
    * Chile growing robustly on domestic demand, investment
    * Both exports and imports fall from month earlier


    SANTIAGO, March 7 (Reuters) - Chile posted a trade surplus
of $68 million in February, narrower than the three previous
monthly surpluses as both exports and imports dipped, the
central bank said on Thursday.
    The economy of the world's No.1 copper producer depends
heavily on exports, which also include wood products, wine,
fruits and salmon. Booming consumer spending has also buoyed
imports. 
    The trade balance figure compares with a $764
million surplus in February 2012, according to central bank
data.
    Export revenue totaled about $5.940 billion in February of
this year, the lowest since September, while imports were about
$5.872 billion, the lowest since June.
    Export revenue was also mildly down compared with February
2012, when it clocked $6.320 billion. Imports, on the other
hand, came in a whisker higher than February of last year's
$5.557 billion.
    "The moderation of the trade surplus at the margin may
exacerbate officials' concerns about Chile's deteriorating
current account," Goldman Sachs said in a note to clients. 
    "We note, however, that capital goods imports have grown
substantially more than consumption goods imports, largely owing
to the acceleration of investment in the tradables sector
(mining)," the note added. "Hence, the lower trade surplus today
is likely financing the expansion of future exports, reducing
the risk of future external imbalances."

 
    With unemployment at a six-year low, growth exceeding
forecasts and capital pouring in, some analysts have questioned
whether the investors' darling economy is at risk of
overheating. 
    Domestic risks to Chile's booming economy have become more
important in the short term, but have not translated into higher
inflationary pressures, central bank head Rodrigo Vergara said
on Wednesday. 
    The bank has kept its key interest rate on hold
since a surprise cut in January 2012, as it weighs robust local
growth against lingering global woes. 
    
    COPPER EXPORT REVENUE DOWN
    Chile's copper export revenue was down at
$3.192 billion in February, compared with $3.474 billion in
January and $3.461 billion in February of last year, the bank
added. 
    Copper prices lost more than 4 percent in February.
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