02 April 2009

Chilean Inflation to Slow to 3% ‘Soon,’ Finance Minister Velasco Says

By Nathan Gill
     April 2 (Bloomberg) -- Chile’s inflation rate will fall to the central bank’s 3 percent target ‘soon” as prices for energy and food continue to decline, Finance Minister Andres Velasco said.

Chile’s central bank raised its benchmark interest rate to a decade-high of 8.25 percent last year after inflation surged to 9.9 percent. Since then, annual inflation has fallen to 5.5 percent as the global financial crisis chokes demand at home and abroad.

“We started the year with a short-term interest rate of 8.25 percent,” Velasco said today at a copper conference in Santiago. Chilean inflation will “soon return to the levels of approximately 3 percent, the goal of the central bank.”

Policy makers have cut 6 percentage points from their benchmark interest rate in the first three months of this year, including 2.5-point cuts at each of the central bank’s last two meetings, to push the overnight rate to 2.25 percent.