SANTIAGO, April 8 Chile's consumer price index
posted a 0.4 percent rise in March, its fastest pace since
October, driven higher by rising education, food and
non-alcoholic beverage costs, government data showed on Monday.
March's CPI rate came in above expectations for
a 0.3 percent increase, but the 12-month figure of 1.5 percent
remained well below the central bank's tolerance range of 2
percent to 4 percent.
With students going back to classes in March after the
southern hemisphere's summer, school and university prices
"Variations in (education) prices are explained by annual
adjustments in the value of 2013 tuition," the government's INE
statistics agency said.
Gasoline and cigarette prices also rose, weighing on
consumer prices, although lower electricity prices and
inter-regional bus fares offset the increase, the INE added.
Chile's inflation was 0.1 percent in February and 0.2
percent in January, after remaining unchanged in December.
Core inflation was 0.2 percent in March.
Last week, Chile's central bank lowered its inflation
outlook for 2013 to 2.8 percent from a previous 2.9 percent view
due to "transitory factors," while hiking its growth forecast
for the year.
Inflation is seen rising to converge at 3.0 percent in 2014,
the bank added.
The central bank's benchmark interest rate has
remained on hold since a surprise cut to 5.0 percent in January
2012, as the bank weighs global risks against a surging domestic
But central bank board member Enrique Marshall said over the
weekend that the bank will act if the local economy maintains
dynamism "above what is reasonable," and interest rates are the
best instrument at the entity's disposal.
Ebullient domestic demand, an economy nearing full
employment and heavy investment have protected the world's No.1
copper producer from a sharp slowdown on the back of global
woes, but many analysts are now worried about overheating.
The bank has underscored that the main local risk to Chile's
economy is that growth in domestic demand continues to outpace
the expansion of gross domestic product.
In the latest poll of traders released on March 27, the
median forecast was for the central bank's benchmark rate to
remain at 5.0 percent in three and six months' time and rise to
5.25 percent in 12 months' time.