Inflation likely settled at 1.8-2.6% in Sept. — BSP

A vendor wearing a protective mask arranges vegetables at a stall at Quiapo Market in Manila, July 27, 2020. — GERIC CRUZ/BLOOMBERG

HEADLINE INFLATION in September likely settled between 1.8% and 2.6% due to the lower prices of basic goods and the continued appreciation of the peso, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said on Wednesday.

The BSP point inflation projection for the month is at 2.2%, he said in a Viber message to reporters.

“Lower rice and oil prices as well as Meralco (Manila Electric Co.) power rates, along with the continued appreciation of the peso are expected to be the primary sources of downward price pressures for the month,” Mr. Diokno said.

Meralco earlier said September electricity rates dropped by P0.0623 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to P8.4288/kWh from the rates in August. September rates were at its lowest in three years amid lower generation charge as supply contracts were relaxed due to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, total year-to-date price adjustments for domestic oil products as of Sept. 29 stood at a net decrease of P4.42 per liter for gasoline, P10.71 per liter for diesel, and P14.39 per liter for kerosene, according to the Department of Energy.

Rice products also saw lower prices, with average farmgate palay prices down by 2.2% week on week to P17.64 per kilogram in the first week of September. Average wholesale price of regular-milled rice also slipped 0.7% to P34.99 while its retail price inched down by 0.5% to P37.91.

The peso has been playing around the P48-per-dollar level in recent weeks. On Wednesday, it ended trading at P48.495 against the greenback, appreciating by 0.5 centavo from its P48.50-per-dollar finish on Tuesday.

On the other hand, Mr. Diokno said a partially offsetting factor could come from higher prices of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

The consumer price index rose by 2.4% in August, easing from the 2.4% increase in July but still quicker compared with the 1.7% pace seen a year ago. This brings the year-to-date average inflation to 2.5%, well within the 2-4% target set by the BSP for this year.

The Philippine Statistics Authority is set to report the September inflation data on Oct. 6. — Luz Wendy T. Noble

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