CPI down for 2nd straight month in March

04/09/2020 02:55 PM
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Taipei, April 9 (CNA) Consumer prices moved lower from a year earlier for the second consecutive month in March amid concern over the COVID-19 coronavirus, which has plunged international crude prices, according to the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS).

Data compiled by the DGBAS showed that the consumer price index (CPI) for March fell 0.01 percent from a year earlier, after a year-on-year fall of 0.19 percent seen in February.

On a month-on-month basis, the March CPI was down 0.45 percent. After seasonal adjustments, the figure was also down 0.25 percent, the data indicated.

During the month, the core CPI, which excludes vegetables, fruit and energy, still rose 0.34 percent from a year earlier, the DGBAS said.

DGBAS specialist Chiu Shu-chun (邱淑純) said that since the fall in the March CPI largely reflected a dive in crude prices in the global energy market, the local core CPI growth remained in positive territory and there were no immediate concerns over deflation in Taiwan.

Chiu said that the decline in crude prices was not all negative for Taiwan's economy, since many manufacturers here have benefited from a fall in production costs.

In March, transportation and communications costs fell 4.29 percent from a year earlier after fuel prices tumbled 16.96 percent year-on-year, the steepest fall in 51 months, the DGBAS said.

Education and entertainment costs were also down 0.36 percent from a year earlier in March, as hotel operators and travel agencies cut prices to attract consumers, the DGBAS added.

Bucking the downturn, food prices rose 1.62 percent from a year earlier in March, with prices of fruit up 12.55 percent, but with prices of eggs and vegetables dropping 13.51 percent and 6.07 percent, respectively, to offset the falling food prices, according to the DGBAS.

The cost of a basket of 17 government-monitored household necessities, including rice, pork, bread, eggs, sugar, cooking oil, shampoo and toilet paper, fell 0.23 percent in March from a year earlier, after a 0.73 percent drop in February the DGBAS said.

The wholesale price index (WPI) fell 7.32 percent from a year earlier in March, largely reflecting a drop in the prices of chemical materials, drugs, base metals, fuel and coal products, the DGBAS data showed.

The import price index dropped 9.76 percent in March from a year earlier in Taiwan dollar terms and fell 7.70 percent in U.S. dollar terms, the figures showed.

The export price index declined 6.45 percent in Taiwan dollar terms and dropped 4.30 percent in U.S. dollar terms, the data indicated.

In the first three months of the year, the local CPI rose 0.55 percent from a year earlier, with the core CPI up 0.44 percent, while the WPI fell 5.03 percent year-on-year, the DGBAS said.

(By Pan Tzu-yu and Frances Huang)

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