The overall year-on-year increase in prices of widely used goods steadied in February as food costs eased, the government reported this morning.

Preliminary data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed headline inflation at 3% last month, steadied from 3% in January 2021 though slowed down from 4.2% in February 2021.

Month on month, inflation picked up by 0.1% in February.

The latest headline figure is lower than the 3.3% median in a BusinessWorld poll conducted late last week, below the 3.2% midpoint forecast for February but falls within the 2.8%-3.6% estimate given by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

Year to date, inflation settled at 3%, still fell within the BSP’s 2-4% target for the year.

February core inflation print is still not available.

Heavily weighted food and non-alcoholic beverages slowed to 1.2% year on year in February from 1.7% in January and the 6.2% print recorded in February last year. It accounted for 37.75% of the theoretical basket of goods and services that an average Filipino household buys under the 2018 prices.

Meanwhile, inflation for housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels increased to 4.8% that month from 4.5% in January; transport (to 8.8% from 7%); and recreation, sport, and culture (to 1.6% from 1.5%).

The food alone index decelerated to 1.1% in February from 1.6% the previous month and 6.8% print a year ago.

Meanwhile, the February inflation rate for the bottom 30% of households slowed down to 2.7% from 3.2% in January and 5.5% in February 2021. Year to date, bottom 30% inflation settled at 2.9%. — Lourdes O. Pilar