* Helped by surge in copper output and anchovy catches
* December’s 6.39 pct is fastest monthly expansion in 2 years
* Growth expected to continue to accelerate this year (Adds details, context)
LIMA, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Peru’s economy expanded at a faster-than-expected rate of 3.26 percent last year, rebounding from a sharp slowdown in 2014 thanks to a December surge in copper output and anchovy catches, state statistics agency Inei said Monday.
The official year-on-year reading for December, 6.39 percent, marked the fastest monthly expansion in two years and came in above the 5.4 percent rate forecast in a Reuters poll.
The finance ministry had estimated a 2.8 percent expansion in all of 2015 while the market and central bank expected growth of about 3 percent.
In 2014 the economy grew 2.4 percent as investments and exports tumbled at the end of a decade-long mining boom that had been fueled by record prices for its key mineral exports.
Last year was the first since 2010 that economic growth quickened rather than slowed in the Andean country, the world’s third-biggest supplier of copper and zinc and seventh-biggest producer of gold.
The data may bolster tepid business and consumer confidence that has dragged on domestic demand during more than a year of growth forecasts that were repeatedly revised down.
In December, soaring copper production from new mines and a rebound in anchovy fishing continued to drive a year-end recovery that had stalled for more than a year. Copper out rose 68 percent while fishing activity was up 83 percent, Inei said.
Mining was responsible for a full percentage point of gross domestic product growth in 2015, while financial services and retail activity each contributed about half a point, Inei said.
Despite slumping copper prices, growth in Peru is expected to continue to accelerate this year thanks to the red metal.
The start of the huge copper mine Las Bambas and an expansion at one of the country’s biggest deposits, Cerro Verde, will likely make Peru the world’s second-biggest copper producer this year after neighboring Chile.
The central bank said after hiking the benchmark interest rate last week that growth would likely pick up in the first quarter to approach 4 percent - its current view of the potential growth rate.
A sustained economic recovery would give the central bank more room to continue tightening monetary policy as the currency’s depreciation fans inflation, now at a four-year high.
The unemployment rate edged up to 6.6 percent in November-January, up from 6.4 percent in the same period a year earlier, Inei said. (Reporting by Mitra Taj; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Hugh Lawson)