Inflation inches up to 4.2% in January

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The country’s inflation rate went up to 4.2 percent at the start of the year from the 4.1 percent recorded in December 2013, because of the higher prices brought about by food and nonalcoholic beverages, according to the National Statistics Office (NSO) which is under the Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA).

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The PSA said on Wednesday that food inflation went up by 5.7 percent in January from 5 percent in December last year, which was a major factor in the slight increase in the monthly inflation rate.

Other than food and nonalcoholic beverages, the state-run statistical body said that four commodity sectors also recorded raised prices at the start of the year.

“Contributing to the uptrend were higher annual growths also recorded in the indices of clothing and footwear; furnishing, household equipment and routine maintenance of the house; health; and recreation and culture. Inflation during the same month a year ago was 3.1 percent,” the PSA said.

The 4.2-percent January headline inflation was is within the 3.4-percent to 4.3-percent forecast range of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said that the rise in prices of food items was mainly because of the inclement cooler weather the country has experienced throughout the first month of 2014.

“In January 2014, most food items recorded faster inflation due to tight market conditions as a result of inclement weather,” said Balisacan, who is also the director general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

He said that rice prices increased the most, following tight supply conditions in major rice-producing provinces in the second and third quarters of last year.

For vegetables and goods prices, the NEDA chief said that these were affected because of “unfavorable weather conditions” in the month.

“On the other hand, prices of local petroleum and power were restrained last month, tempering the effect of higher inflation of other major consumer products,” Balisacan said.

Petroleum prices were the same, factoring lower global crude oil prices and the general charges of the Manila Electric Co.
Nonfood items also went up slightly by 2.8 percent in January from the 2.7 percent in December 2013. Despite the higher inflation rates, Balisacan said that the prices of basic commodities for the year will remain “manageable.”

“In the absence of major shocks, we expect that headline inflation in 2014 could average around 4.4 percent, still within the DBCC [Development Budget Coordination Committee] target of 3 percent to 5 percent for the year,” the Cabinet official said.

According to the NEDA, Southeast Asian neighboring countries had inflation rates mixed, with Indonesia slowing down, Thailand and Malaysia inching up, and Singapore maintaining inflation rates.

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