Inflation 'likely to have held steady in March' experts predict

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On the basis of the Wholesale Price Index (WPI), inflation was 2.48 percent in February and 5.11 percent in March a year ago. In the same month past year, the WPI inflation was 5.11 per cent.

On April 12, the data released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) showed that lower food prices eased March retail inflation to 4.28 per cent from 4.44 per cent in February 2018.

Food and beverage prices were 0.9 per cent up, on an annual basis, while the price of utilities and housing has increased by 4.6 per cent and transportation costs were 0.7 per cent higher compared to a year earlier.

With this, the rate of inflation based on WPI Food Index consisting of "Food Articles" from Primary Articles group and "Food Product" from Manufactured Products group decreased from 0.07% in February, 2018 to (-) 0.07% in March, 2018.

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Index for "Minerals" group declined by 2.0 percent to 119.7 (provisional) from 122.2 (provisional) for the previous month due to lower price of copper concentrate (14%) and phosphorite (1%).

Martin Beck, lead United Kingdom economist at Oxford Economics, said: "Although we think that 2018 as a whole will see a steady decline in price pressures, March may have proved an exception to that".

Core inflation dropped to 3.5 per cent in March 2018 from 3.9 per cent in February 2018.

"Unlike the retail inflation which dipped by 16bps in March 2018 over the previous month, the wholesale inflation remained flat".

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It may be too early to draw any inference from such movement, the divergence suggests that impulse of demand recovery at the moment is being felt at the retail level and not so much at the wholesale level, he said.

Food inflation came negative at 0.29% in March against 0.88% in the previous month.

According to a government data released Monday, food articles witnessed deflation after about eight months as vegetables, cereals, pulses, eggs, meat and fish, turned cheaper.

Nayar said the rise in global crude petroleum and natural gas prices, as well as the recent depreciation of the rupee against the dollar, is likely to push the WPI inflation up in April.

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