Chile finmin says no recession seen in 2009-report

SANTIAGO, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Chile’s finance minister said the economy should not enter in a recession in 2009 thanks to government moves to ease the impact of a global downturn, an interview published in daily El Mercurio said on Saturday.

Minister Andres Velasco told the newspaper he did not expect gross domestic product to fall in two consecutive quarters of this year, which would technically constitute a recession.

“We do not have data that suggests the Chilean economy will be in that situation,” Velasco was quoted as saying.

Earlier this week, the government announced a $4 billion economic stimulus plan to spur employment and growth despite the global financial crisis, aiming for an expansion of between 2 percent and 3 percent of GDP this year.

The country’s central bank also moved this week to jump-start the economy by slashing its target overnight lending rate by 100 basis points to 7.25 percent, making its biggest interest rate cut in more than 10 years.

Nonetheless, analysts are less optimistic than the government, forecasting 2009 economic growth at a median of 1.5 percent, down from a previous estimate of 2.0 percent.

Analysts have predicted 2008 growth of around 4 percent. (Reporting by Rodrigo Martinez; Writing by Hilary Burke; Editing by Eric Beech)