Inflation slows down further to 4.4% in January 2019

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Inflation clocked in at 4.4% in January, inching closer to the government's desired range of 2% to 4%, the Philippine Statistics Authority announced on Tuesday, February 5.

This is the 3rd straight month that inflation decelerated after rising for 10 months last year. (READ: How Filipinos are coping with inflation)

The first figure for 2019 was within the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) forecast range of 4.3% to 5.1% and lower than December 2018's 5.1%.

National Statistician Lisa Bersales said this was primarily due to the slowdown in the annual increment of the heavily-weighted food and non-alcoholic beverages index at 5.6% from 6.7% last December.

Lower annual increases were also observed in alcoholic beverages and tobacco (16.1%), clothing and footwear (2.5%), housing and utilities (4%), health (4.3%), and transportation (2.5%).

Inflation in the National Capital Region (NCR) continued to ease as well at 4.6% from 4.8% in December.

Areas outside NCR followed the same trend, posting an inflation rate of 4.4%.

The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao posted the highest inflation rate at 6.1%.

Bersales said fuel and transportation costs in the region may have placed upward pressure on food prices.

The BSP earlier projected that domestic oil price hikes were likely the main drivers of inflation for January.

Cold weather likely placed upward pressure on fish and vegetable prices as well.

While inflation is easing overall, inflation for the poorest or bottom 30% income households has yet to meet similar levels. As of December 2018, it stood at 7.2%. (READ: How high inflation exposed cracks in governance– Rappler.com