Nov inflation at 9-month high of 3.3%

MANILA, Philippines – Inflation accelerated to a nine-month high of 3.3% in November, the month Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) battered the Visayas region, the statistics agency reported on Thursday, December 5.

The November figure was higher than the 2.9 % recorded in October. It was the fastest rise in consumer prices since February, when inflation was at 3.4%, according to data from the National Statistics Office (NSO).

NSO said the inflation rate rose due to higher annual price increases in the indices for food and non-alcoholic beverages, housing, water, and electricity, among others.

BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. warned that prices of basic goods will further increase in the next few months due to the effects of Typhoon Yolanda.

Yolanda struck central Philippines on November 8, killing at least 5,700 people and causing more than P35 billion damage to infrastructure and agriculture.

In a text message to reporters, Tetangco said, "We could see inflation inch up in the coming months  as more of the effects of the calamities become known."

But Yolanda's impact on prices will not last long, according to the central bank chief. "As experience in past natural calamities have taught us, we do not see these effects persisting."

Inflation in the first 11 months was still benign at 2.8%, below the government's target of 3% to 5%.

Tetangco concluded, "Policy settings therefore remain appropriate."

Inflation is one of the factors BSP looks at when setting its interest rates, which influence rates that local banks charge on their loans.

Benign inflation allows the central bank to keep rates low, boosting demand for loans. Loans help support household and business spending.

The central bank has kept its policy rates at record lows of 3.5% for overnight borrowing and 5.5% for overnight lending.

BSP will hold its next policy rate-setting meeting on December 12.

"We stand ready to make adjustments as and when needed to address unforeseen developments," noted Tetangco. – Cherrie Regalado/Rappler.com