Thursday, August 17, 2017

Chile maintains rate, notes rise in copper prices

     Chile's central bank kept its monetary policy interest rate at 2.50 percent, as widely expected, and reiterated its neutral guidance while pointing to a "favorable scenario" on the international front, including an increase in prices of copper, the country's main export.
     The Central Bank of Chile, which has cut its rate four times this year by a total of 100 basis points,   also said inflation in July was below the estimate in its last monetary policy report while private consumption remains stable and expectations had become less pessimistic.
      Chile's inflation rate was steady at 1.7 percent in July from June while the exchange rate of the peso continued to gradually appreciate.
      The central bank targets inflation of 3.0 percent, plus/minus 1 percentage point.
      The peso was trading at 646.5 to the U.S. dollar today, up 3.6 percent this year.
      Chile's Gross Domestic Product grew by an annual rate of 0.1 percent in the first quarter of this year, down from 0.5 percent in the previous quarter.
      In June the central bank cut its 2017 growth forecast to between 1.0-1.75 percent from a previous forecast of 1-2 percent due to weak performance by mining and construction.
      Copper prices fell steadily from 2011 to record lows in January 2016 but have been rising since late last year and especially since May this year. Today, however, they fell sharply.

     The Central Bank of Chile issued the following statement:

"In its monthly monetary policy meeting, the Board of the Central Bank of Chile decided to keep the monetary policy interest rate at 2.5%.

Incoming international news continue to point to a favorable scenario. The world activity outlook has strengthened and global financial conditions remain expansionary. In general, commodity prices have increased, most notably in the case of copper.

On the domestic front, July’s inflation was 0.2%, thus in annual terms it remained at 1.7%, below the last Monetary Policy Report’s estimate. Inflation expectations brought no relevant news. During the second quarter activity posted weak growth, attributable to the performance of some investment-related sectors and some specific factors. Private consumption remains stable, in line with conditions in the labor market and expectations that have become less pessimistic. The peso has appreciated.

The Board reiterates its commitment to conduct monetary policy with flexibility, so that projected inflation stands at 3% over the policy horizon. Any future changes in the monetary policy rate will depend on the implications of domestic and external macroeconomic conditions on the inflationary outlook."


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