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Wholesale prices up 0.3 pct in March, a hint of inflation

12 April, 2018, 06:21 | Author: Samuel Sharp
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The growth of consumer prices in Ukraine in March 2018 was 1.1% compared to 0.9% in February and 1.5% in January, the State Statistics Service of Ukraine reported on Tuesday.

The March consumer price index dipped 0.1% in March, but year-over-year, it was up to 2.4% from 2.2% in the prior month.

As a result, economists are forecasting the core PCE price index increasing 1.9 percent year-on-year in March after rising 1.6 percent in February. On a month-on-month basis, the PPI fell 0.2 per cent versus 0.1 per cent decline in February, as the months-long smog war that led to supply constraints and an uptick in factory prices tapered off. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said last week that 12-month inflation readings "should move up notably this spring" because of the fading of weakness from a year earlier.

In the 12 month through March, the CPI increased 2.4 per cent.

Inflation has increased in Egypt since the floatation of the Egyptian pound in November 2016, reaching a high record level in July due to energy subsidy cuts; inflation has gradually eased since July 2017. Core consumer prices, which strip out volatile items like fresh food and energy, rose by 2 per cent Y/Y versus 2.5 per cent in February.

The CPI drop surprised analysts who had predicted a 0.1 per cent increase.

In line with the central bank's assessments, annual inflation is expected to hover around 2.2% in 2018 and converge to the central bank's target in 2019.

Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics said the new signs of an upward trend meant the Fed was likely to raise rates a total four times this year rather than the three hikes now forecast.

Inflation is also expected to get a boost from a $1.5 trillion income tax cut package and increased government spending, as well as a weakening USA dollar.

But the CPI remains an important benchmark and the March price data could send jitters through Wall Street, where investors get skittish when faced with signs the Fed could raise interest rates more aggressively.

A separate report, also released Wednesday by the Labor Department, showed average hourly earnings adjusted for inflation rose 0.4 percent from March 2017. That likely accounted for the big jump in the annual inflation rate last month.

Healthcare costs increased 0.4 percent, with prices for hospital care shooting up 0.6 percent and the cost of doctor visits rising 0.2 percent.

In annual terms, food prices rose by 4.1%, within which eggs became 27.0%, butter 14.2%, pasta products 11.1%, milk products 6.9%, milk 5.9% and bread 5.6% more expensive. There were also declines in the cost of telecommunication, used cars and trucks, tobacco and education.



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