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COST OF LIVING/Taiwan CPI growth slows to 2.14% in March

04/09/2024 10:00 PM
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Two people shop for groceries at a hypermarket in Kaohsiung. CNA photo April 9, 2024
Two people shop for groceries at a hypermarket in Kaohsiung. CNA photo April 9, 2024

Taipei, April 9 (CNA) The local consumer price index (CPI) rose 2.14 percent from a year earlier in March, higher than a 2 percent alert set by the central bank, but the growth moderated from a 3.08 percent increase in February, the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said Tuesday.

According to the DGBAS, the March inflation data showed local consumer prices climbed out of the effects resulting from seasonal factors in February, which was when the seven-day Lunar New Year holiday fell.

After eliminating seasonal factors in the first two months of this year, the CPI growth in March was the lowest since July 2023, when the year-on-year increase stood at 1.88 percent, DGBAS specialist Tsao Chih-hung (曹志弘) said.

On a month-on-month basis, the March CPI fell 0.66 percent, while after seasonal adjustments, the figure rose 0.26 percent, the data indicated.

Core CPI, which excludes vegetables, fruit and energy, rose 2.13 percent, also above the 2 percent alert, but slowed from the 2.89 percent seen in February, the DGBAS said.

In the first three months of this year, Taiwan's CPI grew 2.34 percent from a year earlier with the core CPI up 2.22 percent, the DGBAS added.

In March, food prices rose 2.86 percent from a year earlier with prices of meat, frozen food, grains and fruit up 4.37 percent, 4.10 percent, 3.07 percent, and 2.46 percent, respectively. Dining costs grew 3.49 percent from a year earlier in March but slowed from a 4 percent increase in February.

Egg prices fell 14.90 percent from a year earlier in March, offsetting the food price growth as a whole in the month, the DGBAS said.

An increase in food prices served as a driver to the March CPI increase and contributed about 0.77 percentage points to the growth, the DGBAS added.

The DGBAS said, however, food price growth in March moderated from the 4.49 percent seen in February.

Education and entertainment expenses grew 1.91 percent from a year earlier in March on the back of solid demand for entertainment activities, while living costs rose 1.93 percent after rents grew 2.24 percent, compared with a 2.21 percent increase in February, the DGBAS added.

The cost of a basket of 17 government-monitored household necessities, including rice, pork, bread, eggs, sugar, cooking oil, instant noodles, shampoo and toilet paper, rose by 1.17 percent from a year earlier in March, moderating from a 3.17 percent increase in February, the DGBAS said.

The March growth in the 17 items dipped to the lowest level since December 2020, when the increase stood at 0.63 percent.

In the wake of an increase in international crude oil and coal prices as well as the depreciation of the Taiwan dollar against the U.S. dollar, the producer price index (PPI) for March rose 0.34 percent from a year earlier, the DGBAS said.

However, a move by state-owned oil supplier CPC Corp., Taiwan, to cut natural gas prices and a decline in poultry and livestock product prices and base metal prices helped to stabilize the PPI in March, the DGBAS said.

The import price index fell 0.37 percent from a year earlier in March in Taiwan dollar terms and also dropped 3.93 percent in U.S. dollar terms, while the export price index rose 2.15 percent in Taiwan dollar terms but dropped 1.50 percent in U.S. dollar terms, the data showed.

In the first three months of this year, the PPI fell 0.08 percent from a year earlier.

Tsao said an uptrend in international crude oil prices and a hike of 11 percent in electricity tariffs on average from April are expected to push up consumer prices from a year earlier this month.

The DGBAS has forecast the higher power bills will boost the CPI growth to 2.03 percent in 2024, compared with a 1.85 percent increase forecast by the agency in February.

(By Pan Tzu-yu and Frances Huang)

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