Inflation stays at lower end of band
Johannesburg - South Africa’s targeted consumer inflation was at 3.7% year-on-year (y/y) in February, unchanged from January and in line with consensus, official data showed on Wednesday.
Statistics South Africa said the headline consumer price index (CPI) was at 0.7% month-on-month (m/m) from 0.4% in January.
Economists surveyed by Reuters predicted inflation at 3.7% y/y for February, while prices were seen rising 0.7% m/m.
Christie Viljoen, economist at NKC Independent Economists, said rising fuel costs were likely to influence inflation for a while.
“The big increases came from fuel prices going up which pushed public and private transport costs up and there was a big monthly climb in health costs, specfically the category for medical services, which affects most of us in the country," she said.
“The annualised number is still very low but the problem is with the fuel prices going up, which can have second- and third-round effects which will influence almost everything else going forward.”
Inflation hit a five-year low of 3.2% in September, but has since edged up slowly.
The Reserve Bank said at its last meeting in January it expected inflation to stay within its target band until the end of 2012, averaging 4.6% this year and 5.3% in 2012.
Many analysts expect the central bank to revise its inflation forecasts upwards, given high international oil and food prices.
Central bank governor Gill Marcus said last week rising oil and food prices were the main concern for the bank.
The monetary policy committee started its second policy meeting of the year on Tuesday and is largely expected to leave the repo rate unchanged at 5.5% when it announces its decision on Thursday.
The bank left rates unchanged in January, after cutting them by 650 basis points between December 2008 and December 2010.