Tue, May 06, 2008 - Page 12 News List

Consumer prices rose 3.86% last month

FOOD FACTOR DGBAS said rising international grain prices and soaring edible grain and fruit prices were largely responsible for the substantial jump last month

By Jerry Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

A customer looks at products at a convenience store in Taipei on Aug. 2 last year following commodity price hikes. Rising food prices were blamed yesterday for the Consumer Price Index (CPI) reaching 104.2 points last month, a decrease from March’s figure, but still higher than the same period last year.

PHOTO: LO PEI-DER, TAIPEI TIMES

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 3.86 percent from a year ago to reach 104.2 points last month, down from March’s 3.95 percent year-on-year increase, but still high amid rising food prices, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday.

Food prices saw the biggest increase — 9.75 percent — last month from a year ago, due to rising international grain prices and the deferred effect of a typhoon last fall, the bureau said.

It attributed the slowing CPI growth rate last month to vegetable prices, which dropped 11.01 percent last month from a year ago.

However, that decline was offset by surging edible oil and fruit prices, which jumped 36.57 percent and 19.32 percent year-on-year respectively last month, the bureau said.

Standard Chartered Bank (渣打銀行) said the 3.86 percent year-on-year increase in last month’s CPI was higher than expected.

“The bank originally expected last month’s CPI to drop to 2.9 percent, as we believed food prices would likely go down,” Standard Chartered chief economist Tony Phoo (符銘財) said by telephone.

Rising food prices, which have a large affect on the inflation rate, will likely slow down in the second half of this year owing to last year’s high growth rate, he said.

The core CPI, which excludes prices of every product such as vegetables, fruits, fisheries products and energy, rose 3.1 percent year-on-year last month, the highest level since March 1999.

“The core CPI growth rate has been expanding since the second half of last year, and has now reached a figure that deserves extra attention,” DGBAS section chief Wu Chao-ming (吳昭明) told a press conference.

The core CPI, largely impacted by international grain prices, is on an upward trend, and will remain at a high level in the first half of this year, Wu said.

The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) which edged up 6.18 percent year-on-year last month, saw its smallest increase since November, because of the NT dollar’s 9 percent appreciation since April last year, Wu said.

On a month-on-month basis, the WPI was up by a seasonally adjusted 0.17 percent, the bureau said.

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