Millennium Post

After 5-month rise, Feb retail inflation declines to 5.18%

After rising for five months in a row, retail inflation in February fell to 3-month low of 5.18 per cent as food prices including vegetables, pulses and fruits became less costly. Retail inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), was at 5.69 per cent in January this year. In February last year, it stood at 5.37 per cent. The rate of price rise last month was the slowest since November, when the inflation print was 5.41 per cent. It also provided a break from a continued increase in inflation for 5 months; the rate of price rise had been on an upward trajectory since September 2015 when it had moved up by over a percentage point to 4.41 per cent.

Food inflation for last month softened to 5.30 per cent as prices of vegetables, pulses, fruits and milk turned cheaper, government data showed on Monday. In January, it was 6.85 per cent. Inflation in pulses was lower at 38.30 per cent during the month, while the rate of price rise in vegetables was at 0.70 per cent. In January, it was 43.32 per cent and 6.39 per cent respectively. Fruit prices turned into a deflation zone at (-)0.72 per cent in February. Retail price rise of ‘cereals and products’ remained almost flat at 2.18 per cent and that for ‘meat and fish’ category, moved down with an inflation print of 7.27 per cent. However, prices of eggs shot up significantly during the month with inflation standing at 6.19 per cent. The inflation rates, based on CPI for rural areas, stood at 5.97 per cent in February, while that for urban areas it was at 4.30 per cent. The prices are collected by the government from selected towns by the Field Operations Division of National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) and from selected villages by the Department of Posts. The monthly data is released by the Central Statistics Office, under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. The CPI data for March will be released on April 12.

Moreover, continuing the deflationary trend for the 16th month in a row WPI inflation declined by 0.91 per cent in February, prompting India Inc to press for a rate cut by RBI to boost factory output, which has been contracting since November. Subdued prices of certain food items and petroleum products kept the WPI inflation at (-)0.91 per cent in February as against (-)2.17 per cent a year ago. It was (-)0.9 per cent in January. This is the 16th consecutive month since November 2014 when the deflationary pressure has persisted. Food inflation stood at 3.35 per cent in February compared with 6.02 per cent in January, showed official data, which was released on Monday. 
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