Thu, Dec 06, 2018 - Page 12 News List

CPI rises 0.31%, lowest increase in 13 months

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

The consumer price index (CPI) last month rose 0.31 percent from the same period last year on the back of lingering cigarette tax and oil price hikes, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics said yesterday.

The advance is the lowest in 13 months and represented a 0.6 percent decline from October, as an abundant vegetable supply drove down prices, the agency said.

“Consumer prices held stable last month, as evidenced by headline and core CPI values,” an agency official said, dismissing concerns that consumer spending lost momentum amid a stock rout, and trade tensions between the US and China.

The easing in price levels had more to do with cheaper vegetables and oil price corrections than consumers tightening their budgets, the official said.

Prices of miscellaneous items increased the most at 1.94 percent on the back of cigarette tax hikes, the agency’s report showed.

Cigarettes cost 7.2 percent more last month compared with a year earlier, the agency said.

Medical and health expenses rose 0.89 percent due to upward adjustments for registration fees and certain drugs, it said.

Transportation and communication costs increased 0.66 percent, as the rise in oil prices more than offset rate cuts for Internet and MRT services, the agency said.

Food costs, which account for 25 percent of the inflationary reading, edged down 0.45 percent, because of cheaper vegetables and fruits, it said.

Vegetable and fruit prices declined 22.64 percent and 2.84 percent respectively year-on-year because of supply gluts, it said.

Egg prices climbed 27.99 percent, while milk products gained 3.53 percent, the agency said.

Core CPI, a more reliable inflation tracker because it excludes volatile items, grew 0.67 percent, signaling that consumer prices are rising modestly, it said.

The CPI reading after seasonal adjustments dropped 0.39 percent.

The wholesale price index (WPI), a measure of production costs for companies, last month rose 3.24 percent, easing from a revised 5.87 percent increase in October, the agency said.

Import prices gained 2.83 percent in US dollar terms, driven mainly by mineral products, it said.

Export prices posted a 0.12 percent increase in US dollar terms, as prices for mineral products moved up, but prices for machinery, TVs and other products became cheaper, the agency said.

In the first 11 months of this year, CPI rose 1.648 percent, while WPI gained 3.95 percent, it said.

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