By Carmina Angelica V. Olano, Researcher
Inflation eased for the second straight month in December by the slowest pace since May’s 4.6%, helped by slower increases in food and transport prices, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported.
Headline inflation dropped to 5.1% last month from 6% in November, the PSA said this morning. This, however, is still faster than the 2.9% posted in December 2017.
Inflation had picked up for nine straight months to a nine-year-high 6.7% in September that was sustained in October before dropping to six percent in November.
The latest inflation pace is lower than the 5.7% median in a BusinessWorld poll late last week and falls below the 5.2-6% estimate given by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) for last month.
Full-year inflation came in at 5.2% against the central bank’s 2-4% target range for 2018 and was the fastest since 2008’s 8.2%.
Stripping out volatile prices of energy and food, core inflation clocked 4.7% in December, slower than November’s 5.1%, fueling a 4.2% average for 2018.
In a press briefing this morning, National Statistician Lisa Grace S. Bersales noted “slowdowns” in the year-on-year increases of food and non-alcoholic drinks, which eased to 6.7% in December from 8% in November; and transport to four percent from 8.9%.
In particular, food inflation declined except for other cereals, flour, cereal preparation, bread, pasta and other bakery products, which accelerated 4.1% in December from 3.9% a month ago. Rice prices eased to six percent overall in December, slower than the 8.1% pace posted in the preceding month. Increments of fish prices also moderated to 9.9% from 12.5%, meat to 5.5% from 6.3%, and vegetables to 8.1% from 11.5%.
Meanwhile, transport costs also slowed at four percent from November’s 8.9% pace.
PSA noted that the overall increase in prices of widely used goods slowed in all regions of the country. In Metro Manila, inflation eased to 4.8% in December from 5.6% a month ago, while overall price hikes similarly dropped to 5.3% from 6.2% in areas outside the National Capital Region.
For the full year, inflation in Metro Manila outpaced the national average at 5.5%, while it was slower in areas outside the capital at 5.1%.