UPDATE 1-Chilean 2014 economic growth slowest in 5 yrs; speeds up in Dec

jueves 5 de febrero de 2015 09:06 GYT

(Recasts, adds yearly figures, background)

SANTIAGO Feb 5 (Reuters) - Chile's economy, which relies heavily on copper exports and consumer demand, expanded 1.8 percent in 2014, its slowest pace since the 2009 recession, central bank data showed on Thursday.

Cooling investment in the mining sector and falling household consumption have weighed on the economy of Chile, the world's top copper producer, for several quarters.

But the IMACEC economic activity index, which encompasses about 90 percent of the economy tallied in gross domestic product figures, picked up its pace in December, rising 2.9 percent from a year ago and topping market forecasts.

It was the biggest monthly expansion since March, boosted by an increase in services and retail as well as greater value added from mining, the bank said.

Antonio Moncado, an economist at Bci Estudios, said it was unclear whether economic activity data had turned a corner.

The answer may come, he said, during the second half of 2015, as "a rebound in consumer and business sentiment will favor greater dynamism than what we observed in 2014."

Compared with November, economic activity increased a seasonally adjusted 1.0 pct.

The central bank will publish official GDP data, which tends to closely mirror the IMACEC, on March 18.

(Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)