Wed, Jan 09, 2019 - Page 12 News List

CPI falls 0.05% on oil; core index strong

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

The consumer price index (CPI) last month fell a fractional 0.05 percent, the first decline in 14 months, as oil prices fell due to cooling demand amid a global slowdown, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday.

The agency dismissed concern over deflation, saying that core CPI stayed positive.

“A drastic correction in international crude prices accounted for the marginal decline in the inflation reading,” a DGBAS official said. “It should not be seen as a sign of deflation as consumer prices remained stable.”

Oil product prices declined 7.22 percent, while mobile service and Internet charges were 6.34 percent and 5.96 percent lower than their levels a year earlier respectively, the official said.

That explained why transportation and communication costs were 1.02 percent cheaper, he added.

Garment costs dropped 1.17 percent as firms offered discounts for summer clothing to spur sales, the agency said in a report.

Food prices, which comprise one-quarter of the inflation gauge, retreated 0.61 percent, as vegetable and fruit prices became cheaper from the same period a year earlier, the report showed.

The core CPI, a more reliable long-term price tracker as it excludes volatile items, inched up 0.52 percent, showing that there is no need to worry about deflation, it said.

Deflation happens when people avoid spending on expectation of a price fall.

The CPI movement also had to do with the tapering of cigarette tax hikes, the official said.

CPI picked up 1.35 percent all of last year, while core CPI increased 1.22 percent, the report said.

The wholesale price index (WPI), a measure of production costs for companies, last month rose 0.83 percent, easing significantly from a revised 3.03 percent gain in November, the agency said.

An ongoing trade dispute between the US and China helped weaken crude demand, the agency said, adding that the WPI increased 3.64 percent last year.

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