Singapore's core inflation positive for third consecutive month in April

Singapore's core inflation positive for third consecutive month in April

A woman walks along a promenade at the Raffles Place financial business district
A woman walks along a promenade at the Raffles Place financial business district in Singapore on Apr 20, 2021. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: Consumer prices in Singapore rose in April, driven by smaller declines in electricity and gas costs, as well as retail and other goods, data showed on Monday (May 24). 

This is the third straight month that Singapore's core inflation has remained positive.

Core inflation rose 0.6 per cent year-on-year in April, an increase from 0.5 per cent in March, according to data from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI). 

The headline consumer price index (CPI), or overall inflation, rose to 2.1 per cent in April, from 1.3 per cent in March, driven by higher private transport and accommodation costs as well as an increase in core inflation. 

Core inflation excludes the price of private transport and accommodation.

"The increase in both core and headline year‐on‐year inflation was partly on account of the low base in April last year when prices fell sharply," said the authorities. 

FALL IN ELECTRICITY AND GAS PRICES

Electricity and gas prices fell at a slower pace due to upward revisions in electricity and gas tariffs. Electricity and gas costs declined at -2.4 per cent. 

"On a year-on-year basis, the electricity tariff fell by 2 per cent in April, a smaller reduction compared to the 14.4 per cent decline in March. 

"The gas tariff rose by 5.6 per cent year-on-year in April, after remaining unchanged on a year-on-year basis in March," said MAS and MTI. 

READ: Singapore core inflation turns positive for the first time after a year

READ: Singapore economy may grow more than 6% this year, but recovery will be ‘disparate’ across sectors: MAS

The cost of retail and other goods fell at a slower rate of -1.1 per cent in April, compared to -1.5 per cent in March. This is due to a rise in the prices of telecommunication equipment and personal effects, as well as a smaller reduction in the cost of personal care products. 

Services costs registered 1.1 per cent in April from 1.2 per cent in March. This reflected a fall in telecommunication service fees and lower health insurance inflation, said MAS and MTI. 

Food costs fell to 1 per cent in April from 1.4 per cent in March due to lower non-cooked food inflation. 

OVERALL INFLATION ROSE

Private transport inflation rose to 12.9 per cent in April, an increase from 7.2 per cent in March. This was driven by a sharper increase in car prices and pickup in other private transport costs. 

The year-on-year increase in other private transport costs "partly reflected" the low base last year, as these costs declined "significantly" in April 2020 when all Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) charges were suspended, said MAS and MTI. 

READ: ‘Green shoots’ of recovery for Singapore’s economy, although uncertainties remain: Economists

As of April this year, 12 of the ERP gantries have resumed charges. 

Accommodation costs edged up as housing rents rose more strongly, from 0.5 per cent in March to 0.7 per cent in April. 

EXTERNAL INFLATION HAS RISEN AMID RECOVERY IN OIL PRICES

MAS and MTI said external inflation has risen amid recovery in global oil prices, as well as turnaround in producer price inflation in the major economies. 

"While there are some upside risks, the upward pressure on global inflation should ease in the latter part of this year," said the authorities. 

They added that surplus oil production capacity should cap large increases in oil prices, while negative output gaps in some of Singapore's major trading partners should moderate import price pressures. 

In Singapore, overall inflation is expected to remain at around current rates in the near term, and ease in the second half of this year as base effects fade, said MAS and MTI.

READ: Commentary: Contours of Singapore’s post-COVID economy are coming into sharper focus

Core inflation will continue to gradually increase, but the recent measures announced under Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) are projected to have a "slight dampening effect" on the pickup in underlying inflation, said MAS and MTI. 

"In addition, uncertainty in the economic outlook will weigh on consumer sentiment and hence price increases in the near term," they added. 

Wage growth this year as a whole is expected to be muted as slack in the labour market will take time to be fully absorbed. Commercial rents are also projected to stay low, said the authorities.

Private transport and accommodation costs should also remain resilient on the back of firm demand for cars and rental accommodation, said MAS and MTI. 

Source: CNA/lk(ta)

Bookmark