Chilean consumer prices rose 0.3% in March, and 3.7% in twelve months

SANTIAGO – Chile consumer prices rose 0.3% in March, the government’s statistics agency said on Wednesday, pushed upwards by a rise in food and education costs but counterbalanced by a fall in transportation prices.

Annual inflation hit 3.7%, nearing the upper limit of the central bank’s 2% to 4% range, the agency said.

Chile´s economy has been hammered in recent months by mass protests over inequality that began in late 2019 and now, the coronavirus outbreak. The world´s top copper producer has confirmed more than 5,000 cases of the virus, among the highest tallies in Latin America.

Increasing uncertainty in what was once the region´s most stable economy has driven the peso down against the dollar, at times to historical lows.

Chile´s central bank has twice slashed interest rates in the past month to help bolster the local currency and combat a predicted “severe economic contraction.”

The bank said in March falling global oil prices amid the global coronavirus pandemic would ease inflationary pressure in Chile, where the vast majority of fossil fuels are imported.–MercoPress