Philippine inflation seen easing for first time in 10 months in October

November 2, 2018 - 7:23 PM
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Graph showing inflation
Philippine inflation likely eased for the first time in 10 months in October, reducing the need for another aggressive action from the central bank when it reviews monetary policy. (Philstar/File photo)

MANILA — Philippine inflation likely eased for the first time in 10 months in October, reducing the need for another aggressive action from the central bank when it reviews monetary policy on Nov. 15, a Reuters poll showed.

The consumer price index is seen rising 6.5 percent in October from a year earlier, based on the median forecast in a survey of 10 analysts, slowing from September’s 6.7 percent, which was the fastest since 2009.

Six analysts estimated slower rates, one as low as 6.0 percent, while the rest gave projections of between 6.7 and 6.9 percent. The median forecast is at the middle of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) projected range of 6.2-7.0 percent for the month.

Lower food and energy prices, and the Philippine peso’s rebound from 13-year lows versus the U.S. dollar may have helped reduce inflationary pressures, some analysts said.

They said inflation likely peaked in the third quarter, as the BSP had projected, but would remain elevated in the fourth quarter.

A slower inflation in October could still prompt the BSP to raise interest rates at its Nov. 15 meeting but at a less aggressive pace than its last two rate raises, or it may pause after four hikes totaling 150 basis points (bps) since May, they said.

The BSP raised interest rates for the fourth time in five months on Sept. 27, by 50 bps, pushing the overnight reverse repurchase facility rate to 4.5 percent, a seven-year high, in its bid to cool inflation.

It had projected average inflation of 5.2 percent this year, well above its 2-4 percent target range. Higher prices of food largely due to domestic supply issues, energy prices, and taxes on certain commodities pushed the nine-month average to 5.0 percent.

Non-monetary measures, including removing import restrictions on certain food items such as rice, could temper further price pressures and lead to an early return of inflation to within the 2-4 percent target range in 2019, the BSP has said. — Polling by Enrico dela Cruz and Karen Lema in Manila and Khushboo Mittal in Bengaluru; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri