SANTIAGO, Mar 25, 2011 (Dow Jones Commodities News via Comtex) -- Chile's peso ended stronger against the dollar Friday, as international copper prices rose and investors mostly overlooked Europe's persistent sovereign debt woes, Japan's untamed nuclear energy crisis and continuing unrest in the Middle East.
The currency ended at CLP478.60 to the dollar, versus Thursday's close of CLP479.60, after trading in a range of CLP478.60 to CLP480.50.
As Chile is the world's leading copper producer and exporter, accounting for nearly a third of global output, the peso often takes trading cues from the industrial metal's international prices.
In New York trading, copper futures inched higher on reports of a stronger-than-expected bump in fourth quarter U.S. economic growth.
"With negative news from the Middle East and Japan taking a backseat, even a small rise in copper prices lifts the peso," said a trader at a local bank, who asked to remain anonymous.
Investors largely ignored the euro's slump versus the dollar after Portugal's sovereign debt was downgraded by Standard & Poor's Corp. and Fitch ratings, he added.
As Chile's export-dependent economy ships nearly a third of its products to Europe, the peso often moves in the same direction as the euro does against the dollar.
Rising international stock markets, which generally point to improved sentiment, also provided support for the peso's strength.
"If global stock markets keep gaining next week and even if copper stays at these same prices, we should see the peso break resistance at CLP478," he added.
As part of its $12 billion currency-intervention program, the central bank purchased $50 million at an average rate of CLP479.83 Friday. It has accumulated $2.90 billion so far this year.
In the bond market, yields on inflation-indexed Chilean central-bank bonds, or BCUs, ended slightly lower in thin over-the-counter trading.
The yield on five-year BCU bonds at 2.38%, from 2.40% on Thursday, while the yield on 10-year BCUs closed at 2.85%, from 2.86% the prior session.