UPDATE 1-Chile growth picks up in first quarter as economy recovers
SANTIAGO May 18 (Reuters) - Improving domestic demand and increased mining output helped drive Chile's economy to grow 1.0 percent in the first quarter of 2015, compared with the prior quarter, signaling that the economy is beginning to rebound after a slow 2014.
The reading is the strongest quarter-on-quarter performance since the third quarter of 2013 in Chile, the world's top copper exporter.
On an annual basis, growth was 2.4 percent, the central bank said on Monday. That beat Reuters forecasts for a 2.1 percent expansion.
Economic growth slowed to a five-year low of 1.9 percent in Chile last year as mining investment and consumer demand cooled, but the bank expects the economy to gradually rebound this year, although it has warned that depends largely on sustained demand from top trade partner China.
Although investment contracted in the first quarter, demand overall grew 1.3 percent, compared to zero last quarter, as household spending rose. A boost also came from an increase in spending by President Michelle Bachelet's center-left government, the data showed.
By sector, the strongest growth came from mining, agriculture, telecommunications and services.
In particular the export of cherries, grapes and cranberries boosted the figure, the bank said. Although copper is Chile's dominant industry, it is also an important producer of fruit, wine, salmon and paper.
Copper itself also notched up growth, led by improving ore grades and new projects.
(Reporting by Rosalba O'Brien Editing by W Simon)
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