Taiwan consumer price growth picks up speed in January

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Inflation grew faster than expected last month in Taiwan driven by food and fuel prices as well as a jump in the cost of nursery care during the lunar new year holiday.

Taiwan’s consumer price index rose 2.25 per cent year on year in January, according to the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics. That was up from 1.7 per cent in December and above a median estimate of 2.07 per cent from economists surveyed by Reuters.

Food prices rose 2.98 per cent year on year, with a 20.35 per cent spike in the price of fruit offset somewhat by falls in vegetable and seafood prices. Fuels and lubricants prices rose 27 per cent year on year, however.

Core CPI, which strips out more volatile food and energy prices, nonetheless rose 1.65 per cent, accelerating from December’s rise of 0.84 per cent, with the cost of nursing care jumping 45.19 per cent and entertainment expenses rising 4.1 per cent year on year.

Upstream price growth accelerated as well, with Taiwan’s wholesale price index rising 2.72 per cent year on year from 1.41 per cent a month prior, largely driven by gains from fuel and commodities.

Crude petroleum and natural gas prices were up 62.65 per cent, while quarried and mineral product prices climbed 30.34 per cent. Those big gains come courtesy of the base effect, with commodity prices hitting multi-year lows in late 2015-early 2016.

Prices for computers and electronic and optical products – a key component of exports – dropped 4.55 per cent. That tracked with a 0.75 per cent fall by an index for export prices.

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