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Inflation slows down to 0.9% in February –PSA

Inflation further slowed down to 0.9 percent in February after the annual declines noted in both food and non-food items, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) announced Friday.

February's performance was a drop from the 2.5 percent recorded on the same month in 2015 and the 1.3 percent recorded in January

"The persistent global oversupply and record stockpile levels of crude oil contributed to this softer inflation, as prices of Dubai oil, Brent and West Texas Intermediate continued to weaken in January 2016," Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Emmanuel F. Esguerra said in an emailed statement.

Data from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) show that domestic petrol prices fell by more than 10 percent in February compared with the same month in 2015: gasoline by 10.4 percent, liquefied petroleum gas by 11.7 percent, diesel by 26.4 percent, and kerosene by 22.6 percent.

NEDA also said that slower upward price adjustments were observed in fish, other cereals, flour, cereal preparation, bread, pasta, and other bakery products.

"The implementation of programs related to mitigating the impact of El Niño such as cloud seeding operations, installation of alternative irrigation systems, crop rotation, the use of hybrid crop varieties, and other government assistance for farmers, helped ease price pressures on food," Esguerra said.

"Annual declines were noted in the indices of housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels and transport. Slower annual growths were also seen in the indices of food and non-alcoholic beverages and clothing and footwear," the PSA said in a release on its website.

Core inflation, which excludes price-sensitive food and energy items, also decelerated to 1.5 percent from 1.8 percent in January and 2.5 percent in the same month last year.

"Consumer prices in February 2016 generally dropped by 0.3 percent. This was primarily attributed to lower prices of the heavily-weighted food items such as fish, vegetables and fruits. Prices rollbacks in gasoline and diesel nationwide and downward adjustments in ship fares in many regions also contributed to the downtrend," the PSA said.

The latest number was also in line with the lower range of the central bank's forecasted 0.9 to 1.7 percent.

"The fall in rice, gasoline, and LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) and provisional rollback in jeepney fares in certain regions are seen to dampen inflation pressures for the month," Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. earlier said in a text message.

"BSP will continue to monitor price trend and take necessary measures towards its commitment of price stability," he added.

Looking forward, NEDA's Esguerra said that the low inflation rate is "likely to continue as external downward pressures remain." —KBK/KG, GMA News