May 18, 2018 / 1:45 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Chile says economy grows 4.2 pct in first quarter

(Adds details on increase in mining activity, political context)

SANTIAGO, May 18 (Reuters) - Chile’s gross domestic product grew 4.2 percent in the first quarter of 2018 compared with a year earlier, boosted by strong growth in the mining sector in the world’s top copper producer, the central bank said on Friday.

Mining activity grew 19.3 percent during the first quarter, driven by increased productivity at the country’s largest mines and favored by a low basis for comparison following a historic strike last year at BHP Billiton’s Escondida copper mine, the world’s largest.

Growth was up 1.2 percent over the last quarter of 2017, the bank said, slightly above expectations.

Domestic demand grew 3.8 percent in the first quarter compared with a year earlier, bank data showed, boosted primarily by an increase in consumption at the household level.

Conservative President Sebastian Pinera took office in early March promising to combat economic “stagnation” in the South American country.

Chile’s full-year 2017 growth was 1.5 percent, one of its lowest rates since the 2008 global economic crisis. (Reporting by Dave Sherwood; editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)

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