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Singapore's core inflation declines to -0.1% in November as retail cost falls

Singapore's core inflation declines to -0.1% in November as retail cost falls

Members of the public queue to enter Ngee Ann City in Orchard on Jun 19, the first day the shopping centre was allowed to reopen after Singapore's circuit breaker. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: Consumer prices in Singapore declined in November, as authorities forecast a "mildly positive" turn in 2021.

Core inflation fell to -0.1 per cent year-on-year in November, compared with October's -0.2 per cent, data from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) showed on Wednesday (Dec 23).

The slower rate of decline in November was mainly due to a smaller fall in the costs of services and electricity and gas, as well as higher food inflation.

Services costs fell by 0.2 per cent in November, mainly due to a smaller decline in outpatient services fees and an increase in recreational and cultural services costs, the agencies said.

The cost of electricity and gas fell more modestly by 6.8 per cent in November, compared to the -7.2 per cent in October, as targeted utility rebates ceased in the month before.

Food inflation edged up by 1.8 per cent in November, primarily due to a steeper increase in the prices of non-cooked food and restaurant meals.

The cost of retail and other goods fell more sharply by -2 per cent. This was due to a larger decline in the prices of clothing and footwear and a slower pace of increase in the cost of household durables.

Private transport costs and accommodation inflation stayed unchanged in November compared to October, at -1.3 per cent and 0.3 per cent respectively.

READ: Singapore economy 'turning the corner', but recovery still a long way to go – Chan Chun Sing

MAS and MTI retained their outlook from October on external inflation remaining low, amid weak demand in key commodity markets and “the persistence of negative output gaps” in Singapore’s major trading partners.

"On the domestic front, cost pressures are expected to stay subdued, with the accumulated slack in the labour market weighing on wages," said MAS and MTI.

“Nevertheless, core inflation is forecast to turn mildly positive in 2021, as the disinflationary effects of government subsidies introduced this year fade and demand for some domestic services gradually picks up."

Accommodation costs are expected to fall as rentals could soften, due in part to the decline in foreign employment, said the agencies.

Private transport costs should rise modestly ahead of an anticipated reduction in Certificate of Entitlement supply next year.

READ: Singapore's exports down 6.3% in Q3 2020, slower than previous quarter's decline

MAS and MTI forecast core inflation and overall inflation to come in at between -0.5 per cent and 0 per cent in 2020.

In 2021, core inflation is expected to average 0 per cent to 1 per cent, while overall inflation is expected to be between -0.5 per cent and 0.5 per cent.

Last month, MTI said the Singapore economy is expected to shrink between 6 per cent and 6.5 per cent this year.

Source: CNA/kv

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