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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Chilean Central Bank Voted Unanimously for January Rate Rise

Chilean central bank policy makers voted unanimously to raise the benchmark lending rate Jan. 10 in a bid to curb the fastest inflation in more than a decade.

"Given the data since the previous meeting, the council considered that the most plausible options on this occasion were to raise the rate by 25 or 50 basis points"

The central bank lifted its target rate a quarter point for the second consecutive month to 6.25 percent after annual inflation climbed to 7.8 percent in December. In a monetary policy report published Jan. 16. the bank's economists cut their expectations for economic growth and said consumer prices would rise on average 7.1 percent this year.

The monetary policy committee next meets Feb. 7.

Jose de Gregorio, who has presided over rate increases at both of his monthly policy-setting meetings as central bank president, warned on Jan. 17 that the target rate may need to rise again.

``Excessive wage growth, unleashed by high recent inflation,'' or signs that inflationary shocks are having a greater-than-expected impact on prices, may lead to further fiscal tightening, the board said, according to the minutes.

The Chilean peso rose to a nine-year high on Jan. 29 as the difference between Chilean and U.S. interest rates widened.

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