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Economic growth in Chile picked up in Q1, but the recovery remains disappointingly weak, due to both global and domestic headwinds. The latest Imacec index, a proxy for GDP, rose just 2.1% year-over-year in March, slowing from a 2.8% gain in February. Assuming no revisions next month, economic activity rose 1.2% quarter-on-quarter in Q1, better than the 0.9% increase in Q4. These data points to a modest pick-up in GDP growth in Q1, to 1.8% year-over-year, from 1.3% in Q4.
The sell-off in equity markets and increases in volatility have put EM assets under pressure. EM equities and bonds, however, have been outperforming their U.S. and global market counterparts.
Upbeat survey data, a competitive MXN, and the strong U.S. manufacturing sector indicate that Mexican industry should be rebounding.
LatAm economies are being battered by high inflation triggered by currency sell-offs and El Niño supply shocks, so rates have had to rise despite the challenging global environment. Peru's central bank, the BCRP, was forced to increase interest rates by 25bp to 4.25% last Thursday, the fourth hike in six months, as inflation is far above the central bank's 1-to-3% target range.
The sharp currency sell-off in Q2 and Q3, the financial crisis and tighter monetary and fiscal policies have pushed the Argentinian economy under stress since Q2.
Brazilian inflation has been well under control in the past few months, laying the ground for a final rate cut at the monetary policy meeting on March 21.
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