WHOLESALE PRICE growth in general goods picked up on a year-on-year basis in February, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.

The general wholesale price index (GWPI) rose 2.4% from a year earlier in February, up from the growth rate of 2.1% in January. The corresponding growth rate in February 2020 was 2.7%.

The GWPI’s performance in February was driven by mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials (13.6% growth in February, against minus 3.6% in January); chemicals including animal and vegetable oils and fats (5% from 4.1%); miscellaneous manufactured articles (0.7% from 0.1%); and manufactured goods classified chiefly by materials (0.5% from 0.3%).

Price growth slowed in crude materials, inedible except fuels (36.9% from 42.4%); beverages and tobacco (6% from 6.4%); and food (2.2% from 2.7%).

Price growth in machinery transport and equipment remained unchanged at 0.5%.

The growth of wholesale prices varied by major island group. In February, the GWPI in Luzon and Mindanao accelerated to 2.8% and 4.5%, respectively, from 2.3% and 2.8%. On the other hand, the GWPI in the Visayas posted a 1.2% decline, unchanged from January.

In the two months to February, the GWPI grew 2.3%, averaging 2.6% in Luzon and 3.7% in Mindanao, and minus 1.2% in the Visayas.

“The GWPI likely tracked the pickup in CPI (consumer price index) inflation with commodity prices on the uptrend in the first quarter of the year,” ING Bank NV Manila Senior Economist Nicholas Antonio T. Mapa said in an e-mail, adding rising fuel costs linked to the year-on-year increase in crude oil “will likely have pushed up costs.”

The economist expects the increase in wholesale prices to continue “at least in the near term.”

Consumer price inflation was 4.5% in March, exceeding the central bank’s 2-4% target band for 2021 and its forecast of 4.2%. — Lourdes O. Pilar