CPI growth falls to 4.4pc in April, led by trans­port in­dex

New Straits Times - - Business -

KUALA LUMPUR: The Con­sumer Price In­dex (CPI) growth eased to an an­nu­alised 4.4 per cent last month from 5.1 per cent in March.

The Sta­tis­tics Depart­ment said growth — which came in be­low mar­ket ex­pec­ta­tions — was led by the trans­port in­dex, which ex­panded by 16.7 per cent.

Fu­els and lu­bri­cants for per­sonal trans­port equip­ment ac­counted for 7.8 per cent of the CPI weights.

The av­er­age price of one litre of RON95 petrol was RM2.21 last month com­pared with RM1.70 in the cor­re­spond­ing pe­riod last year. As for RON97, the av­er­age price rose to RM2.48 com­pared with RM2.05 in April last year.

The in­dex for Food and NonAl­co­holic Bev­er­ages, which ac­counted 30.2 per cent in the CPI weights, in­creased 4.1 per cent last month.

The Sta­tis­tics Depart­ment said the rise was due to food sub­groups com­pris­ing oils and fats (39.1 per cent), fish and seafood (6.2 per cent) and meat (4.2 per cent).

UOB Bank economist Ju­lia Goh ex­pects in­fla­tion to ease fur­ther with this month’s in­fla­tion ex­pected be­tween 4.0 and 4.4 per cent due to de­clin­ing petrol prices since the end of last month.

“Look­out for pos­si­bly higher food prices with the Ra­madan fast­ing month ex­pected to start on May 27,” she said.

Goh ex­pects the CPI to grow by be­tween 4.2 and 4.5 per cent in the sec­ond quar­ter, as­sum­ing sta­ble oil prices of US$50-US$55 (RM216.19-RM237.81) per bar­rel.

Given that the three-month mov­ing av­er­age is 4.7 per cent, Al­liance Re­search said in­fla­tion would re­main around this range in the im­me­di­ate term.

“How­ever, there is un­cer­tainty in the in­fla­tion­ary trend as it partly de­pends on the direc­tion of global crude oil prices.

“In view of var­i­ous cost-push pres­sures from ad­min­is­tra­tive price ad­just­ments and higher global crude oil prices, we main­tain our higher in­fla­tion fore­cast of 3.5 per cent for this year,” said Al­liance Re­search. Rupa Damodaran

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