UPDATE 1-Chile April inflation rises twice as fast as expected

viernes 8 de mayo de 2015 09:17 GYT

(Recasts, adds economists comments, background)

SANTIAGO May 8 (Reuters) - Chile's consumer price index rose at twice the speed that was expected in April, on the back of price increases for transportation, health, food and non-alcoholic beverages, likely keeping the central bank at bay on monetary policy through 2015.

The CPI rose 0.6 percent in April, well above analysts' expectations for 0.3 percent in a Reuters poll. Inflation in the 12 months to April was 4.1 percent, remaining above the central bank's 2 percent to 4 percent target range for the 13th month in a row, government data showed on Friday.

Core inflation was 0.5 percent in the month.

"The surprisingly high CPI print in April throws some cold water on the prospects of a faster disinflation of the domestic economy, underscoring the central bank's conservative inflation projections," said Tiago Severo, economist with Goldman Sachs.

In its March Quarterly Monetary Policy Report, the central bank forecast annual inflation of 3.6 percent for December 2015.

Bank President Rodrigo Vergara said on April 1 the central bank's operating assumption was that it would raise the benchmark interest rate towards the end of 2015 or at the start of next year.

Indeed, the high rate of inflation in April should keep the bank from hiking interest rates this year.

"We shouldn't see any changes in how monetary policy is being managed. We see the monetary policy rate and the (neutral) bias kept steady during all of 2015," said Antonio Moncado, economist at Bci Estudios in Santiago. (Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Bernadette Baum)