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Inflation in April hits 14-month high (update 2)
Central News Agency
2014-05-06 09:29 PM
Taipei, May 6 (CNA) Taiwan's consumer price index (CPI) in April grew at its fastest pace in more than a year largely because of hikes in food prices, government statistics showed Tuesday. The CPI rose 1.65 percent in April from a year earlier, the highest change since February 2013, when it rose 2.96 percent year-on-year, the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said. Compared with the previous month, the CPI was up 0.66 percent in April because of higher clothing expenses, vegetable prices and dining-out costs, but it only rose 0.16 percent from a month earlier after accounting for seasonal variations, the DGBAS said. In April, food prices rose 5.04 percent from a year earlier. Prices for fruit were up 19.30 percent year-on-year, meat 13.79 percent, fish 8.40 percent, and grain 2.70 percent. Driven by those price rises, dining-out costs in the month rose 3.03 percent from a year earlier, or about NT$184 (US$6.11) per consumer, according to the DGBAS. Tsai Tai-yu, a deputy head of the information office's statistics division, told reporters that higher food prices caused household expenses to rise to NT$60,000 per month, up NT$772 from a year ago including an increase of NT$255 from fruit prices alone. Tsai said that 17 household necessities, including rice, pork, bread, eggs, shampoo and cooking oil among others, rose 6.31 percent from a year earlier to a new 62-month high. Pork prices in the month rose 14.82 percent from a year earlier. He said with the Dragon Boat Festival approaching, it is possible that pork prices will continue to grow on the back of rising seasonal demand. Price markdowns in consumer electronics, computer and communications devices in April, however, helped offset the impact from rising food prices, the DGBAS said. In the month, health care costs rose 0.80 percent due to medicine price hikes, while living costs rose 0.75 percent, including a 2.57 percent increase in electricity and 1.12 percent increase in gas prices. Core CPI, which excludes vegetables, fruits and fuel, rose 1.24 percent in April from a year earlier, while the wholesale price index (WPI) gained 0.12 percent year-on-year due to higher electricity rates, fuel prices and agricultural product prices. However, the falls in computer and other electronics and optoelectronics prices as well as base metal prices helped to rein in the WPI increase in the month, the DGBAS said. Year-on-year, the local CPI for April rose 1.01 percent from a year earlier and the core CPI gained 0.77 percent year-on-year, while the WPI added 0.08 percent from a year ago, the government agency said. In response, the country's top economic planning body said it will do its utmost to curb the impact of inflation on the "vulnerable" population. The government will keep a close eye on commodity prices and take measures as needed, the National Development Council said in a statement. Taiwan's Council of Agriculture also said in a statement that the fruit supply will increase as the weather warms, slowing down the growth of prices. As there is not likely to be a large decrease in the price of pork, an important meat in Taiwanese cooking, the council suggested substituting poultry and seafood instead ahead of the Dragon Boat Festival. There will, however, be a sufficient supply of traditional foods, including fruits and vegetables, for the festival, it added. (By Frances Huang and James Lee)
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