Chile’s economic activity index bolstered by increase in services

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A waiter is seen on a restaurant in Valparaiso

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Chile’s IMACEC economic activity index, a close proxy of gross domestic product (GDP), rose 7.2% in March from the same month last year, the country’s central bank said on Monday.

That was above market expectations of a 6.3% rise, according to a Reuters poll of economists. In a statement, the central bank said the rise was “mainly explained by the increase in services activity.”

It said services, including transport and business services, rose 12.2%. Commerce also registered a 8.6% rise, boosted by retail sales, household equipment and automobile sales.

The central bank noted a 1.5% drop in goods production as a result of a decline in the performance of the mining industry.

Chile’s economic activity in March was also up 1.6% from a month earlier in seasonally adjusted terms, the central bank added.

Services and commerce fell sharply due to health measures imposed during the coronavirus pandemic, but those measures have been loosened and Chile’s economy has recovered faster than expected.

That has also led to strong pressure on consumer prices, which the central bank has tried to battle with a sharp rise in the benchmark interest rate.

(Reporting by Fabian Andres Cambero, Natalia Ramos and Alexander Villegas; Writing by Alexander Villegas; Editing by Mark Potter and Paul Simao)

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