(Recasts, adds detail on causes of decline, context)
SANTIAGO May 30 Chile reported an unexpectedly
low wine harvest in April, contributing to the country's weakest
industrial output reading in nearly three years, according to
government data published Tuesday.
Chilean manufacturing production fell 7.5
percent in April from a year earlier, significantly
underperforming market expectations, with a Reuters poll
forecasting a 1.5 percent decline.
It was the biggest year-on-year decrease since August 2014.
Calendar effects - there were three fewer working days than
a year ago - took their toll, but the statistics institute INE
also cited lower wine production due to a shortened harvest and
falling demand, with weather conditions also affecting some
fruit and vegetable output.
A torrid southern hemisphere summer forced the wine harvest
in Chile to begin earlier than usual, although wine-growers to
date have said they did not expect that to affect volumes.
A competitive market and falling demand in Britain due to a
weaker pound have also hurt Chilean wine exports.
Copper makes up over half of Chile's export earnings, but
the South American country is also an important producer of
wine, fruit, salmon and paper.
Copper production fell 1.8 percent year-on-year, INE also
reported on Tuesday, as the giant Escondida mine slowly ramped
back up output after a strike in February and March.
(Reporting by Rosalba O'Brien; Editing by Bill Rigby)