February 7, 2017 / 5:23 PM / a year ago

Chilean construction registers worst month in years in December

SANTIAGO, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Construction activity in Chile fell 4.1 percent in December, its worst performance in more than seven years, an industry body said on Tuesday, underlining Chile’s difficulties with jump-starting its sluggish economy.

The large drop in December follows a 3.9 percent fall in November, the CChC industry body said in a press release. It added that new construction permits fell 34 percent in annual terms in December, which followed a 29.9 percent fall in November.

“Construction activity reflects what is happening in diverse sectors of the economy and, lamentably, we continue to be witness to a weak trend growth rate,” CChC director of studies Javier Hurtado said in a statement.

Companies, households and banks, which have tightened their credit in recent years, continue to act with caution, he added.

Chile registered growth of 1.5 percent in 2016, amid low prices for its key export, copper, and a fall in investment.

Salfacorp, Socovesa, Paz, and Besalco, among other companies, participate in the Chilean construction sector. (Reporting by Felipe Iturrieta; Writing by Gram Slattery; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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