The annual growth in the consumer price index (CPI) last month hit its lowest level since October 2008 amid falling fruit and vegetable prices and telecommunication service fees, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday.
The nation’s headline inflation rose 1.01 percent last month from a year earlier, slowing from October’s year-on-year growth of 1.25 percent, with clothing costs increasing 4.15 percent — the most among the seven main sectors surveyed by the DGBAS.
Food costs increased 1.1 percent last month from a year ago, with prices for eggs and dairy products jumping the most at 19.58 percent and 7.17 percent respectively, the DGBAS said in a report.
However, prices for fruit and vegetables — which dropped 13.02 percent and 1.78 percent last month year-on-year amid a strong harvest — mitigated the increase in the cost of food, as well as in the overall CPI.
“Falling fruit and vegetable prices dragged down headline inflation by 0.42 percentage points last month,” DGBAS section chief Wang Shu-chuan (王淑娟) told a press conference.
The other factor helping to slow the growth of inflation was sliding telecommunication service fees, Wang said. Fees dropped 6.13 percent from a year earlier as domestic operators continued to offer discounts.
The 1.01 percent increase in headline inflation translated into increased costs of NT$606 a month for households with a monthly income of NT$60,000 when compared with a year earlier, with food costs rising NT$186 and gasoline costs up NT$94, while telecommunication service fees were down NT$101, the report said.
Growth in core CPI — which excludes vegetable, fruit and energy prices — stood at 1.24 percent last month from a year ago, compared with an increase of 1.53 percent in October, DGBAS data showed.
On a monthly basis, prices were dipped a slight 0.04 percent last month, with a 0.07 percent rise after being seasonally adjusted, data showed.
Meanwhile, the wholesale price index (WPI) rose 5.29 percent year-on-year last month, down from 5.8 percent a month ago, with import prices growing 9.36 percent from a year ago, DGBAS said.
Tony Phoo (符銘財), a Taipei-based economist at Standard Chartered Bank, said growth in the WPI and import prices was faster than in headline inflation and the core CPI, adding that underlying upside trends in domestic price pressures still remained.
This should keep the central bank’s policymakers alert to underlying risks, Phoo said, adding that the bank would likely keep the policy rate unchanged at 1.875 percent during its board meeting on Dec. 29.