Chile economic activity growth 3% amid sluggish mining performance

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile’s economic activity rose 3.0% in September from the same month a year ago, the central bank said on Monday, bolstered by rises in the construction and service sectors even as expansion in its key mining industry remained sluggish.

The IMACEC economic activity index encompasses about 90 percent of the economy tallied in gross domestic product figures.

Economic activity dropped 0.6% in September compared to August, the bank said, and rose 2.2% over 12 months.

Mining activity in September dropped 1.6% compared with the same month in 2018. Non-mining activity grew by 3.5 percent, the bank said, helped by the growth in construction and services.

Chile, which produces nearly one-third the world’s copper, has suffered as prices for the red metal flounder. Heavy rains in Chile’s normally parched northern desert, home to many of its mines, labor strife and a blistering drought in its central agricultural region have added to the pain.

Chile’s new finance minister, Ignacio Briones, has said that next month’s IMACEC index is likely to be either flat or in negative territory due to the unrest the country has experienced in the past two weeks.

Briones, appointed in a cabinet reshuffle by President Sebastian Pinera last week, told Chile´s Canal 13 in an interview that VAT intake alone had dropped by a quarter in the past week.

He added that economic growth for 2019 would be 2.2% rather than the originally forecast 2.6% because of the unrest.

“In Chile there is a before and after that we will have to factor into everything,” he said.

Editing by Gareth Jones