Chile economic activity down 3.4% in October as protests take toll

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SANTIAGO, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Chile's economic activity dropped 3.4% from the same month a year ago, the central bank said on Monday, a sign of the economic toll of violent protests which sowed chaos across much of Chile for weeks.

The IMACEC economic activity index encompasses about 90 percent of the economy tallied in gross domestic product figures.

Protests in Chile began on Oct. 18 over a hike in metro fares but quickly spiraled into riots, arson and looting that have left 26 dead and upwards of $1.5 billion in losses for businesses.

Non-mining activity fell 4 percent, the bank said, marked by a sharp drop in education, transportation, business services and the hotel and restaurant sector. Much of Santiago, Chile's capital of 6 million, was shut near the end of October as riots and looting closed streets, central squares and many small businesses.

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Mining activity in the world's top copper producer nonetheless grew 2.0 percent compared with the same month in 2018, as new production from Codelco's Chuquicamata mine ramped up, boosting total output despite the mounting protests.

Chile's copper mines have mostly maintained production and kept operations running normally in the face of the unrest, with only scattered incidents reported. (Reporting by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Alison Williams)

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