Inflation expected to have slowed further this month

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THE OVERALL INCREASE in prices of widely used goods likely eased further this month as lower prices of rice and other produce offset increases of fuel and electricity costs, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Department of Economic Research announced on Friday.

The central bank unit said March inflation, which will be reported on April 5, likely clocked in at 3.1-3.9%, compared to February’s 3.8%, March 2017’s 4.3%, as well as BSP’s a three percent full-year forecast and 2-4% target range for 2019.

The lower end of the estimate, if realized, would be the slowest pace in 15 months.

It would also mark the fifth consecutive month of slowdown from a nine-year-high 6.7% recorded in September and October last year.

“Higher domestic oil prices and upward adjustment in electricity rates, provide upside price pressures to inflation for the month,” the BSP said.

Manila Electric Co. — the country’s biggest electricity distributor — announced earlier this month that it will increase its overall rate by P0.0894 per kilowatt-hour (/kWh) to P10.4961/kWh, while the Energy department’s oil price monitor as of March 26 showed year-to-date increases of P6.75 per liter for gasoline, P4.75%/liter for diesel and P3.55/liter for kerosene.

“Going forward, the BSP will continue to closely monitor evolving inflation dynamics and ensure that monetary policy stance remains appropriate to support BSP’s price stability objectives,” the central bank’s Economic Research department said in a brief note e-mailed to journalists. — KANV