The consumer price index (CPI) last month declined 0.33 percent from a year earlier, dragged by lower transportation and recreation costs attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday.
It was the seventh straight month that consumer prices had declined, but the retreat has been tapering off as shopping, dining and domestic tourism pick up, the statistics agency said.
“The inflationary gauge might return to the positive zone if international oil prices stabilize, as the virus outbreak’s effects on consumer activity have wound down,” DGBAS Senior Executive Officer Chiou Shwu-chwen (邱淑純) told a media briefing.
The trend shows that there is no need to worry about deflation, given that the pace of contraction is slowing, Chiou said.
The revised CPI dropped 0.52 percent in July, 0.77 percent in June and 1.21 percent in May.
The index after seasonal adjustments last month picked up by a mild 0.18 percent, the agency’s report showed.
Transportation and communication costs again registered the biggest decline at 3.74 percent due mainly to a 15.03 percent fall in fuel prices and a 3.5 percent drop in telecommunication fees, it said.
Education and entertainment costs softened 1.27 percent, as hotels and recreational facilities cut prices to attract customers, it said.
The prices of admission tickets to entertainment facilities dropped 18.4 percent annually, the steepest decline in 17 years, while hotel rooms were on average 10.4 percent cheaper, Chiou said.
Airfares shrank 2.23 percent, while group tour charges fell a fractional 0.6 percent, indicating that the tourism sector is returning to normal, Chiou said.
Food costs increased 0.17 percent, as the cost of meat and dining out rose slightly, the agency said.
Prices for clothing gained 1.65 percent and miscellaneous items picked up 1.36 percent on the back of stronger demand for gold and jewelry, it said.
Bullion is in great demand due to robust global investment, the Ministry of Finance said on Monday after bullion exports surged fourfold last month.
Core CPI, a more reliable tracker of consumer prices because it excludes volatile items, rose 0.31 percent, it said.
The wholesale price index (WPI), a measure of production costs, dropped 9.09 percent, easing from a revised 9.18 percent tumble a month earlier, the DGBAS said.
For the first eight months of the year, the CPI edged down 0.27 percent, while the WPI fell 8.43 percent, the agency said.
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