UPDATE 1-Chile economic activity beats forecast, rate hike possible
(Adds analysts' comments, month-on-month data)
SANTIAGO Nov 5 (Reuters) - Chile's economic activity rose 2.6 percent in September from the same month a year ago, central bank data showed on Thursday, beating expectations and possibly paving the road for another interest rate hike in November.
The uptick in the IMACEC economic activity index, which encompasses about 90 percent of the economy tallied in gross domestic product figures, was due to greater added value in services and manufacturing.
September's growth beat forecasts for a 2.1 percent rise. September's increase was the highest since June, when economic activity rose by the same amount.
"The better-than-expected IMACEC figures, together with solid labor market indicators for September, should assuage concerns about a stall in Chile's economy," said Goldman Sachs economist Tiago Severo.
Barring a surprise on the downside when the national statistics agency publishes inflation data on Friday, "we expect this will pave the way for the central bank to hike the policy rate by another 25 basis points in November," Severo added.
The central bank raised the benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to 3.25 percent on Oct. 15 and said further hikes were likely as it tries to rein in stubbornly high inflation.
Economic activity grew 2.1 percent in the third quarter versus a year ago.
In comparison with August, September's economic activity increased a seasonally adjusted 1.1 percent, the biggest jump in seasonally adjusted month-on-month growth since June 2013.
"Ultimately, subdued business sentiment and external headwinds from lower commodity prices amid China's slowdown convey a challenging outlook for economic recovery in 2016, when we forecast real GDP growth at 2.3 percent," J.P. Morgan's Iker Cabiedes said in a research report. (Reporting by Anthony Esposito Editing by W Simon)
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