* Chile Dec manufacturing down 2.5 pct yr/yr
* High base of comparison, fewer working days hit output
* Export-dependent Chile so far defying global slowdown
SANTIAGO, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Chilean manufacturing production fell a seasonally adjusted 2.5 percent in December from November and also posted a surprise 2.5 percent fall from a year earlier, the government statistics agency INE said on Wednesday.
A Reuters poll saw the index, which is broadly comparable to the prior industrial output index, growing 0.9 percent from a year earlier boosted by food and beverages production.
For all of 2012, manufacturing output in the export-dependent country expanded 2.4 percent versus the prior year, boosted by food and beverages, an increase in salmon and trout production, metal manufacturing and paper production, the agency added.
Chile, the world’s top producer of copper, is also a significant exporter of wine, fish, fruits and wood pulp.
The country’s small, export-dependent economy has mostly fared better than expected despite slowing demand from top trade partner China and fallout from the euro zone crisis.
A tight labor market, along with firm domestic demand and strong economic growth, has prompted Chile’s central bank to keep its key interest rate on hold since a surprise cut in January 2012.