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SANTIAGO, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Chilean central bank president Rodrigo Vergara told a conference on Thursday that the bank’s monetary policy must not react strongly to “one-time” changes in consumer prices, after inflation in September rose much less than expected.
Vergara added, however, that Chile has not seen a significant rebound in investment, and the construction sector in the world’s top copper exporter is especially weak.
Chile’s September inflation figures, in which consumer prices rose only 0.2 percent, well beneath forecasts, were “good news,” he said, adding that they probably meant a revision of the bank’s inflation projections through the end of the year.
Economic data in Chile has been weak since 2014 largely due to low copper prices, but inflation, which has long been above the central bank’s 2 to 4 percent tolerance range, has recently cooled to target.
That in turn has led to speculation that the bank will cut the benchmark interest rate in the near future, after a years-long tightening cycle.
A central bank poll of analysts published on Wednesday saw the inflation rate at 3.0 percent over the next 12 months, with the bank cutting the benchmark interest rate from 3.5 percent to 3.25 percent by February.
At the conference on Thursday, Vergara added that any decisions regarding the interest rate will depend on new inflation data and its implication on inflation. He added that Chilean monetary policy will remain among the most expansive among comparable economies. (Reporting by Felipe Iturrieta; Writing by Gram Slattery; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)