(Adds business sentiment survey results)
SANTIAGO, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Consumer sentiment improved in Chile in December compared to the previous month, arresting its downward slide for the first time in a year, although still-falling business confidence raised doubts about whether an economic turnaround was in progress.
The Gfk Adimark index measuring perceptions of the economy rose to 45.3 in December, Adimark said on Monday.
Although still below the 50 mark - indicating more people were negative than positive - the figure compares with 41.1 in November. It is the first time the reading has improved since December 2013, when the index was at 56.6.
Economic growth in the top copper exporter slowed dramatically in 2014, sparked by falling mining investment, but most forecasters predict a gradual turnaround this year.
The holiday season usually lends December a positive boost, Adimark said, adding that two other factors could also have contributed - the recent fall in the oil price, and resilient jobs data.
As a net importer of oil, Chile is one of Latin America’s main beneficiaries of the commodity’s price collapse in recent months, and it was the key factor driving inflation down at the end of 2014.
Unemployment, meanwhile, has remained relatively low despite the slowdown, which analysts say should help domestic consumption.
A business sentiment survey also published on Monday took a more negative tack, however, registering its second-lowest reading since it was started just over a decade ago.
The index by the Santiago trade chamber CCS fell to 51.8 for the final quarter of 2014. The only time it has scored lower was in the midst of the credit crisis in December 2008.
That cast doubt on the speed of the recovery, the CCS said.
“The persistently falling index...could be suggesting that the recovery process will be very fragile, which might be consistent with GDP growth closer to 2 percent rather than 3 percent in 2015,” it said.
Chile’s central bank has forecast growth this year of between 2.5 and 3.5 percent, after an expansion of around 1.7 percent in 2014.
The Adimark survey polled 1,129 people and the CCS survey polled 412 businesses, both in December 2014.
Reporting by Rosalba O'Brien; Editing by Bernadette Baum