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Inflation quickens to 6-month high in March

Prices of widely used goods rose to a six-month high in March as food, utilities, and transport costs increased amid a spike in global oil prices brought by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Preliminary data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed annual headline inflation at 4% last month, faster than the 3% in February’s 3% but slightly slower than the 4.1% print in March last year.

This matched the 4% print in October last year and the fastest since the 4.2% inflation in September 2021.

It also matched the 4% median in a BusinessWorld poll conducted last week, and near the upper bound of the 3.3-4.1% forecast of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) for March.

Month on month, it picked up 0.6%.

For the first quarter, inflation settled at 3.4%, within the 2-4% of the central bank’s inflation target this year.

Inflation of heavily weighted food and non-alcoholic beverages picked up to 2.6% in March from 1.2% in February.

Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels rose to 6.2% from 4.8%, while transport quickened to 10.3% from 8.8%.

Meanwhile, the February inflation rate for the bottom 30% of households, which is still using the 2012-based prices, picked up to 3.3% last month from 2.7% in February, but lower than 5.5% in March 2021.

Year to date, inflation as experienced by poor households settled at 3%.  

The PSA said the rebased 2018-based inflation for bottom 30% income households is scheduled to be released in December 2022. — Bernadette Therese M. Gadon

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