Johannesburg - South Africa's consumer inflation braked more
than expected to 5.7% year-on-year (y/y) in May from 6.1% in April, returning to the Reserve Bank's 3%- 6% target band, Statistics South Africa said on Wednesday.
On a month-on-month basis inflation also surprised to the
downside, easing to 0.1% compared to 0.4% in April.
Economists in a Reuters poll had expected the consumer price index to ease to
5.95% on a y/y basis and prices to remain unchanged at 0.4% on a monthly
Elna Moolman, an economist at Renaissance Capital said: “The
downside was somewhat broad-based, although dominated by lower food inflation
and particularly meat prices that continued to fall.
“For now my view is that interest rates will remain flat for
the remainder of this year and through next year.
“There is a small chance of further monetary easing, but I
believe it would require further deterioration in global growth prospects.”
Said Christie Viljoen of NKC economists: “I like the
headline number. It’s low and that’s always very good. It’s the lowest since
September of last year.
“The month-on-month number especially is surprisingly low.
That’s the lowest since November 2010 which was the last time the Reserve Bank
adjusted the interest rate, which was down.
“This will fuel talk
about a possible interest rate cut this year.”
The rand firmed to R8.22 against the dollar from R8.23
before the data was released at 08:00 GMT. The yield on the 2026 bond briefly
dropped 2.5 basis points to 7.985%, before going back to 8.01% by 08:13 GMT.
The 2015 bond was at 6.03% from 6.045% prior to the
The South African Reserve Bank targets a 3%-6% band for
headline consumer inflation. The price index returned to the band in March
after being outside it since November last year. It breached the top end of the
range again in April.
The Bank expects inflation to average 6% in the second
quarter of this year and then gradually moderate within the target range.
Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus said earlier this month
the depreciating rand exchange rate, which dropped to a three-year low of
R8.71/dollar at the start of June, posed the main upside risk to the bank’s
The market has started talking about the possibility of
monetary easing taking place sooner than previous expectations, as inflation
moderates and economic growth struggles to gain traction.