SANTIAGO, July 17 (Reuters) - Consumer sentiment in Chile turned negative for the first time in two years in June, a survey showed on Thursday, a sign that slowing growth in the world’s top copper exporter is starting to take its toll on the broader economy.
The GFK Adimark economic perception index fell to 49.2, slightly below a reading of 50 that represents the threshold of an overall positive outlook. The index has dipped every month since December 2013, when it hit 56.6.
“It would appear that the widely recognized slowdown in the Chilean economy has finally arrived at consumers,” Adimark said.
Cooling mining investment and industrial output as well as, more recently, a deceleration in previously bubbly retail sales growth, have contributed to the slowdown in Chile, where the export-led economy has been hurt by a weaker property market in key copper buyer China.
Economists in a Reuters poll published on Thursday said they expect Chilean growth of 3.0 percent this year, down from an estimate of 3.5 percent in April and well below 4.1 percent in 2013.
The biggest hit to confidence came in job expectations, the survey showed, although unemployment in the country remains near historic lows.
“The spell of optimism for Chilean consumers, which began in 2010 after the global financial crisis, appears to have come to an end,” said Adimark. (Reporting by Rosalba O‘Brien, editing by G Crosse)