SINGAPORE: Singapore's headline consumer price index (CPI) rose a slightly-faster-than-expected 0.6 per cent in November from a year earlier, data showed on Tuesday (Dec 26), as private road transport costs edged higher.
That is the fastest year-on-year increase since July, when headline CPI also rose 0.6 per cent from a year earlier.
Core inflation, which excludes accommodation and private road transport costs, remained unchanged from the previous month at 1.5 per cent, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said in a joint press release on Tuesday (Dec 26).
Private road transport costs rose 4.1 per cent in November from a year earlier, data from the Singapore Department of Statistics showed.
Accommodation costs fell by 3.9 per cent in November, moderating from the 4.2 per cent drop in the previous month. The smaller decline reflected the dissipation of the dampening effect of the disbursement of Service & Conservancy Charges (S&CC) rebates on the year-ago change in accommodation costs in October, the joint release said.
Services inflation edged up to 1.6 per cent in November from 1.5 per cent in October. This was on account of a rise in airfares, which was a reversal from the decline registered in the previous month, as well as a larger increase in telecommunications services fees and holiday expenses which more than offset the smaller increase in recreational & cultural services fees.
Food inflation was unchanged from the previous month at 1.5 per cent, as the pace of increase in prices for non-cooked food and food services was similar in both months.
The overall cost of retail items registered a smaller 0.5 per cent increase in November compared to the 0.9 per cent increase in October. This largely reflected a fall in the prices of personal care products, as well as a smaller rise in the prices of personal effects, the joint release said.
Looking ahead, the MAS expects core inflation to be around 1.5 per cent in 2017 and average between 1 and 2 per cent in 2018. MAS said in a media release that the CPI is projected to come in at around 0.5 per cent this year and stay in the range of between 0 and 1 per cent next year.
However, Francis Tan, economist at UOB, said he does not expect major risks of a higher inflationary trend, but noted that all eyes could be on MAS' next policy meeting in April.
“The market expectation, and our expectation, is that the MAS, in their next policy meeting in April 2018, will start to normalise. I think that goes to show that among all the central banks in the world, they are more or less looking at or already started the monetary policy normalisation and the MAS is likely to continue to likewise,” said Mr Tan.
“Of course we are not looking at a very steep increase in the S$NEER slope even at the start. We are only looking at a 0.5 per cent per annum at the start, but with more data coming in, the central bank will definitely tweak its policy appreciation stance.”
(Additional reporting by Brandon Tanoto)