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We expect March Imacec to increase 0.9% YoY.

Sectorial activity was broadly stable sequentially in March, but with annual rates affected by calendar effects. Real retail sales (including vehicles) increased by 0.2% MoM/SA in March, partly reverting the fall in February (-0.6%). In annual terms, retail sales increased by 0.7% YoY (+4% in February), well below market expectations (2.9%), but closer to our call (Itaú: 0%), in the context of three fewer working days. Separately, manufacturing fell by 0.2% MoM/SA (+0.7% in February), leading to a 2.1% YoY drop (+8.9% previously), also well below the Bloomberg market consensus (2.5%) and our forecast (4%). Mining posted a sequential increase of 0.4% MoM/SA (-0.8% in February), leading to a 4.7% YoY increase (+7.9% in February). As a result, industrial production (grouping manufacturing, mining, and utilities) fell by 0.1% MoM SA, consistent with a 0.7% YoY rise (+8.1% in February). Overall, the market's big miss in sectorial data likely reflects difficulties in gauging the effects of three fewer working days in the month, which revert in April. Overall, we have revised our call for March's IMACEC down 0.5pp to 0.9% YoY.



Activity continued to gain momentum during 1Q24. Total retail sales increased by 2.1% during 1Q24 consolidating its recovery from previous quarters (-3.4% in 4Q; -7.5% in 3Q). Likewise, durable retail sales rose 2.8% YoY in 1Q24 (-0.1% in 4Q23), while non-durables grew by 1.9% (-4.2% in 4Q), both components contributing to the positive quarterly gain. Separately, total industrial production rose 4.0% in the quarter (0.6% in 4Q), with manufacturing increasing 4.2% YoY (+3.8% in 4Q), while mining increased by 4.5% (-2.1% during 4Q). The latter reinforces the good start of the year in the sector, in the context of expectations for an uptick in production in 2024 (Chilean Copper Commission estimates Chile's copper production would reach 5.51 million tons this year, up 5% from 2023). In seasonally adjusted terms, retail sales increased 9.6% qoq/saar, while manufacturing rose by 3.3% qoq/saar. Overall industrial production increased by 5.6% qoq/saar.


Our take: Calibrating the seasonal effect for 2024 is more challenging than usual given the leap-year and a March Easter, which has resulted in large swings in the annual variation prints despite sequential gains in March and 1Q24. The positive retail sales dynamics continues to support our view that activity this year will be lifted by private consumption, which could also be supported by a large increase in international tourist arrivals (up 21% YoY in 1Q24). Likewise, mining production at the start of the year reinforces expectations of a recovery this year, even as Codelco’s 1Q24 production fell on an annual basis. All in all, we expect March’s IMACEC, to be published on Thursday May 2, to reach 0.9% YoY, with a snapback above 4% in April reflecting the additional the three working days in the month. National Accounts data for 1Q24 are scheduled to be released on May 20. We see GDP growth of 2.4% this year.


Andrés Pérez M.

Vittorio Peretti  

Ignacio Martinez Labra