Like many exchange traded funds tracking Latin American equities, the iShares MSCI Chile Capped ETF (NYSEArca: ECH) is rebounding in a big way this year. The lone Chile ETF is higher by nearly 15% year-to-date. Now it looks like Chilean stocks could get some central bank help.
Latin America’s central bank policies are notable, at least among the region’s two largest economies, Brazil and Mexico. Although Brazil’s central bank has not hiked interest rates since last year, its benchmark borrowing cost of 14.25% is among the highest in the world, emerging or developed markets. Earlier this year, Mexico’s central bank surprisingly raised rates to help prop up the peso.
Related: How Central Banks Affect LatAm ETFs
“Traders are paring bets that the Chilean central bank will raise its key monetary policy rate amid signs that the South American country’s economy continues to slow,” reports Eduardo Thomson for Bloomberg. “Two-year interest rate swaps, an indicator of expectations for future borrowing costs, fell 3 basis points to 3.56 percent Thursday, their lowest since Aug. 18, while five-year swap rates slid 6 basis points to 3.88 percent.”
Additionally, Chile’s economic activity grew more than analysts expected in December, led by services, Bloomberg reported. The Imacec index, a proxy of gross domestic product, increased 1.5% year-over-year, compared to forecasts of 0.9%. The economy expanded 0.8% month-over-month and wages gained 5.2% year-over-year.
Chilean economy also benefits from the low oil environment as the country is a heavy importer of energy, reports Kabir Sehgal for TheStreet.