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 and possibly heralding an economic turnaround.
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.
“We can’t say if this is the long-awaited economic ‘direction change’ spoken of by authorities or a timely result triggered by extraordinary or seasonal factors. The January data will help dispel that doubt,” said Adimark.
The survey polled 1,129 people during December 2014.
Reporting by Rosalba O'Brien; Editing by Bernadette Baum