July 8, 2020 / 12:33 PM / a month ago

Chile consumer prices sag in June amid pandemic

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chilean consumer prices fell 0.1% in June, the government’s statistics agency INE said on Wednesday, as the cost of transportation, clothing and health care all sagged amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

Inflation in the 12 months to June hit 2.6%, according to INE, slumping toward the low end of the central bank’s 2-4% target range.

The price of food and non-alcoholic beverages nonetheless clawed upwards slightly, though the government has said early concerns of price gouging amid the pandemic have been largely allayed.

Chile, long hailed as one of Latin America´s most stable economies, is now in the throes of the coronavirus outbreak, reporting more than 300,000 total coronavirus cases and 6,434 deaths.

The pandemic, which struck just as the South American nation was beginning to recover from months of unrest over inequality, has hammered the country’s economy.

Unemployment crested 11% between March and May and is expected to continue to rise as lockdown measures in the capital Santiago take their toll. The central bank has predicted GDP will plunge by as much as 7.5% in 2020, the worst in 35 years.

Reporting by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Chizu Nomiyama

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