* Manufacturing output boosted by food industry
* Copper output up on ore grades, certain deposits
* World No.1 copper producer withstanding global headwinds
By Antonio De la Jara
SANTIAGO, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Chilean manufacturing production grew 4.3 percent in January from a year ago boosted by the food industry, beating a Reuters forecast for a 3.4 percent increase, government data showed on Thursday.
“This expansion is chiefly due to strong dynamism of the food industry, especially the dairy industry, which has increased its productive capacity,” the INE statistics agency said in its report. “Additional, though to a lesser extent, an increase in medicine production... and more output of metal products mostly destined to the mining sector (affected the indicator).”
Seasonally adjusted manufacturing output expanded 0.7 percent in January compared with December, the INE added.
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.
It has been boosted by robust domestic demand, strong investments, a tight labor market, and relatively healthy prices for its main export copper.
The agency also said on Thursday that Chile produced 474,496 tonnes of copper in January, an 8.6 percent expansion from a year earlier, on higher ore grades and improved output in some deposits.
In December, manufacturing output had unexpectedly slipped 2.5 percent in annual and monthly terms, led lower by fewer working days, a fall in wine production and less output of chemicals and certain metals. It was the second time in 2012 the index fell versus the prior year.
The index, which is broadly comparable to the prior industrial output index, grew 3.7 percent in January 2012.