January 7, 2013 / 4:35 PM / 5 years ago

WRAPUP 3-Chile economic growth beats view, trade surplus widens

* Chile November IMACEC indicator rises 5.5 percent
    * Top export copper boosts Dec trade surplus to $1.506 bln
    * Copper exports reach two-year high
    * December growth to be lower than November's - finance
    * Chile weathering global woes on local demand, investment

    SANTIAGO, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Chile's robust economic growth
beat expectations again in November on an uptick in services,
mining and retail, while the trade surplus widened in December
to the biggest in more than a year, the central bank said on
    Year over year, the IMACEC indicator of
economic activity in the world's top copper producer rose 5.5
percent in November, despite one fewer working day versus the
same month in 2011.
    Economic activity beat market expectations for 5.0 percent
growth and exceeded a 3.7 percent expansion in November 2011
from the previous year.     
    Chile notched a $1.506 billion trade surplus in
December, the bank said separately, boosted by sales of top
export copper. The jump helped propel Chile's annual surplus to
$4.208 billion, down sharply from 2011's $10.792 billion
    Chile'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.
    "Generally the local economy continues its strong expansion,
despite the fact that we had expected to see signs of a slowdown
in the IMACEC indicator released today," BICE Inversiones said
in a note to clients. "The data released today allows us to
maintain our expectations for 5.5 percent GDP growth in 2012."
    December's economic growth will ease from November's,
Finance Minister Felipe Larrain said later on Monday. 
    "We're expecting a slowdown in December, lower than
(November's 5.5 percent growth)," he told journalists, adding
the government expects the economy to have expanded 5.5 percent
last year. 
    The central bank has largely adopted a wait-and-see
attitude, holding its key lending rate at 5 percent since a
surprise cut in January 2012, as it weighs external threats
against robust local growth. 
    In addition to producing roughly a third of the world's
copper, the Andean country also exports fruit, wine, wood pulp
and salmon.
    Chile's IMACEC indicator rose a seasonally adjusted 1.3
percent in November from October compared with a downwardly
revised 0.8 percent decline in October.
    After data last month showed Chile's economic activity in
October grew at its fastest annual pace this year, Larrain
predicted the economy would likely grow around 5.5 percent in
    Chile's central bank last month hiked economic growth
forecasts and scaled back inflation projections for this year
and next.
    It sees gross domestic product growth easing in 2013 to
between 4.25 percent and 5.25 percent, from a forecast expansion
of 5.5 percent in 2012. {ID:nL1E8NI3QR]
   The bank calculates its month-on-month IMACEC data in
seasonally adjusted terms. A monthly gauge, the IMACEC measures
more than 90 percent of the components comprising Chile's gross
domestic product, which is published quarterly.
    World No.1 copper producer Chile's exports of the red metal
 reached $4.704 billion in December, their highest
level in two years.     
    December's trade surplus figure compares with a $1.176
billion surplus in December 2011, according to bank data. The
figure is the second monthly surplus in a row following four
consecutive deficits. 
    Exports totaled about $7.714 billion in December, while
imports were about $6.208 billion. Full-year exports totaled
$78.813 billion, while imports reached their highest since at
least 2003 at $74.605 billion, according to bank data. 
    Copper export revenue was up from $3.859 billion in
November, the central bank added. Exports of the metal totaled
$42.723 billion in 2012, slightly down from 2011 levels.

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