Philippines inflation quickens for first time in 6 months in November

Credit: REUTERS/ERIK DE CASTRO

The Philippines' inflation accelerated to 1.3% in November from a year earlier, matching expectations, as the costs of alcoholic beverages, tobacco and utilities rose at a faster pace, the statistics agency said on Thursday.

Nov CPI 1.3% vs Oct's 0.8%

Rise in alcohol and tobacco prices pushed up Nov CPI

Year-to-date inflation at 2.5%, within cbank target

MANILA, Dec 5 (Reuters) - The Philippines' inflation accelerated to 1.3% in November from a year earlier, matching expectations, as the costs of alcoholic beverages, tobacco and utilities rose at a faster pace, the statistics agency said on Thursday.

That was higher than the previous month's 0.8% climb, but it matched the median forecast in a Reuters poll.

Last month's data brought year-to-date average inflation to 2.5%, which was well within the central bank's 2%-4% target for the year.

Core inflation, which strips out volatile food and fuel items, was 2.6% November, unchanged from October.

Prices are expected to gather pace after October, due in part to fading base effects.

"The November inflation of 1.3% is within BSP forecast and accords with the outlook of a gradual pickup to target midpoint in 2020-21," the central bank bank said in a text message, adding that its Board will consider new data and potential risks at its next meeting on Dec. 12.

Inflation had peaked at a near-decade high of 6.7% in September and October last year.

It has since slowed, allowing the central bank to cut interest rates PHCBIR=ECI by a total of 75 basis points (bps) to 4.0% this year, reversing some of last year's rate hikes, which totalled 175 bps.

The central bank also reduced the amount of cash that banks must hold as reserves by 400 bps this year, bringing the ratio to 14%, consistent with its medium-term plan to bring it to single-digit levels.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno has said a fourth interest rate cut was still possible next week at the central bank's last policy meeting of the year.

"We think that BSP will hold off on monetary easing in the meantime given that inflation trajectory is on the path as expected by the central bank," said Robert Dan Roces, economist at Security Bank in Manila.

(Reporting by Karen Lema and Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Kim Coghill)

((karen.lema@thomsonreuters.com; +632 841-8938;))

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