PREVIEW-Chile economy likely grew 2.6 pct in December

WHAT: Chile’s Imacec, which measures monthly economic
activity, for December

WHEN: Friday, Feb 5 at 8:30 a.m. (1130 GMT)

REUTERS FORECAST: Median rise 2.6 percent. 9 analysts and
economists participated in the survey and the estimate range
was for a rise of 2 percent to 4 percent.

FACTORS TO WATCH: Analysts watching growth in retail sector
for signs economic recovery is being led by domestic demand
after retail sales rose 15 percent in December.

If in-line, the December growth data would confirm a 1.8
percent economic contraction in 2009 but would also show that
in the fourth quarter the economy formally exited Chile’s first
recession in a decade.

Analysts also watching data on activity in mining, commerce
and industry for indications of a continued recovery in 2010.
Stock market traders are looking at the Imacec data and
inflation data due on Monday for possible implication for the
trajectory of interest rates.

MARKET IMPACT: In-line or stronger-than-expected economic
activity could help continue rally in Chilean stocks, which
have hit a string of successive lifetime highs in recent weeks.
Weaker-than-expected data could add to expectations by some for
a correction after sharp stock gains.

Traders say the data was unlikely to significantly impact
the volatile peso, which is at 14-week lows as banks purchase
dollars before the end of a central bank liquidity measure and
because of uncertainty over changes to pension fund hedging
rules. [ID:nN03244483]

Chile Central Bank Web site for Imacec www.bcentral.cl

All Chile economic data (ECONALLCL: ). Today’s data (ECONCL: )

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(Reporting by Maria Jose Latorre. Writing by Aaron Nelsen.
Editing by Simon Gardner and Kenneth Barry)

PREVIEW-Chile economy likely grew 2.6 pct in December