SA inflation: The price may be just about right
● Inflation, as measured by the annual change in the consumer price index, slowed to 4.6% in November from 4.8% in October, slightly better than the economists’ consensus of 4.7%.
The index, set to 100 points in December
2016, rose to 104.2 points in November from
104.1 points in October.
Better rainfall contributed to bread and cereal prices falling 4.9% from November 2016. Other parts of the food inflation basket that registered declines included fruit, which was
4.6% cheaper, and oils and fats, which were
Meat, on the other hand, rose in price by
14.9%, leaving overall food inflation unchanged at 5.2%.
The fuel component of inflation came in at
The highest deflation in the CPI basket was telecommunications equipment, with prices dropping by 16%, according to Stats SA.
The annual change in CPI is the key measure used by the Reserve Bank’s monetary policy committee to set its repo rate, which currently stands at 6.75%. The commercial banks by convention add 3.5 percentage points to the repo rate to set the “prime rate” they quote to home and car loan customers.
Slowing inflation would usually raise the hope of a rate cut at the committee’s next meeting on January 18, but the fear of future inflation due to the weakening rand means the repo rate will probably remain unchanged at
6.75% for most of 2018.