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Retail Inflation Rises to Four-month High in February

14 March 2019

Consumer inflation for January was revised downwards to 1.97 per cent, also its lowest level in 19 months, from 2.05 per cent, according to the official statement.

Data released for the month of February showed food inflation staggering in the negative growth rate.

In January, inflation based on wholesale prices fell to a 10-month low of 2.76 per cent over the previous month on softening prices of fuel and some food items, according to Government data released in February.

"With the headline inflation reading at 2.57 per cent and industrial production surprising on the downside at 1.7 per cent, there clearly is a case and space for one more rate cut of 25 bps by RBI in April to support growth", said Rajni Thakur, Economist, RBL Bank. The broader CPI rose 0.2% from January, the first increase in four months, though the 1.5% annual gain missed projections and was the smallest rise since 2016.

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Despite the low numbers consumers faced higher costs last month for housing, food, and gasoline.

On a sub-category basis, vegetable prices reduced on YoY basis in January by (-) 7.69 per cent. Prices of cereal and products went up at 1.32 per cent.

Prescription-drug prices fell 1 per cent on a monthly basis, the most on record, bringing the annual decline to 1.2 per cent - the largest drop since 1972.

The Commerce Department's price index for personal-consumption expenditures rose 0.1% on the month in December and was up 1.7% from a year earlier-shy of the Fed's 2% year-over-year target.

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However the average workweek declined in February, given a 0.3% drop in average weekly hours. WPI inflation stood at 2.74 per cent in March 2018. Customer inflation - decided by Consumer Price Index (CPI) - shows the rate of increase in consumer prices.

In a wide-ranging interview with CBS's 60 Minutes television news programme, Fed chair Jerome Powell on Sunday reiterated the central bank's wait-and-see approach to further monetary policy tightening in 2019. Annual wage growth jumped 3.4% in February, the biggest increase since April 2009, from 3.1% in January.

Prices for new motor vehicles, used cars and trucks, as well as recreation fell. The cost of communication services was unchanged in February for a third straight month.

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Retail Inflation Rises to Four-month High in February