Inflation eases to 3.3% in March, slowest in 14 months

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Inflation further eased for the fifth straight month in March, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported this morning.

March’s headline rate of 3.3% — the slowest in 14 months since January 2018’s 3.4% — was down from 3.8% in February and 4.3% in the same month last year. It also fell within the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) 3.1%-3.9% forecast for March and the 3.5% median estimate in a BusinessWorld poll of analysts.

Year-to-date, inflation averaged 3.8% which is within the BSP’s 2-4% target range for 2019.

Core inflation, which excludes commodities prone to volatile price swings, went down to 3.5% in March from 3.9% in February.

“The downtrend was primarily due to slower annual increase in the index of the heavily-weighted food and non-alcoholic beverages at 3.4% [from 4.7% in February],” the PSA said in a statement.

The PSA also noted slower annual markups in the indices of alcoholic beverages and tobacco at 10.8% in March from 12.2% in February; housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels at 3.4% from 3.7%; furnishing, household equipment and routine maintenance of the house at 3.4% from 3.8%; health at 3.9% from 4.2%; communication at 0.3% from 0.4%; and restaurant and miscellaneous goods and services at 3.7% from 4%.

The food alone index, meanwhile, eased to 3.1% in March versus February’s 4.2% and 5.7% in March 2018. — Carmina Angelica V. Olano