Consumer prices down slightly in February (update)

Taipei--Consumer prices in Taiwan trended lower in February largely because of a high base of comparison for the same period in 2016, the government statistics bureau said Tuesday.

Taiwan's consumer price index (CPI) for February fell 0.04 percent from a year earlier and also dropped 0.34 percent from a month earlier, according to the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS).

The DGBAS said consumer prices in February 2016 spiked due to Lunar New Year holiday demand for a wide range of services such as babysitting services, travel expenses, taxi fees and hairstyling services, pushing up the base of comparison.

The Lunar New Year holiday ran from Feb. 7 to Feb. 14 in 2016 but began in late January this year.

The year-on-year drop in the February CPI also reflected a fall in prices for vegetables, eggs, 3C products, communications fees and electricity prices, but those lower prices were partially offset by increases in fuel and fruit prices during the month, the DGBAS said.

Core CPI, which excludes the prices of vegetables, fruit and energy, rose 0.17 percent in February from a year earlier, the DGBAS said.

In February, food prices fell 0.75 percent from a year earlier, with prices of vegetables and eggs down 37.76 percent and 12.96 percent, respectively.

The prices of fruit, frozen foods, meat and fish rose 23.89 percent, 1.80 percent, 1.77 percent and 1.72 percent, respectively, the DGBAS said, and dining-out services in February were up 1.89 percent year-on-year.

According to the DGBAS, the year-on-year decline in vegetable prices in February was the steepest since November 2009, when the drop was 41.04 percent, while the rise in fruit prices was the highest since July 2016, when they rose 35.15 percent.

The cost of a basket of 17 government-monitored household necessities, including rice, pork, bread, eggs, sugar, cooking oil, shampoo and toilet paper, rose 0.97 from a year earlier in February following a 0.75 percent rise seen in January.

The wholesale price index (WPI) rose 2.19 percent in February from a year earlier, marking the third consecutive month the WPI rose on the back of rising fuel prices, the DGBAS said.

In the first two months of 2017, Taiwan's CPI rose 1.09 percent from a year earlier, with transportation and communications fees up 4.39 percent and food prices up 1.08 percent, while the core CPI gained 0.9 percent year-on-year.

Mei Chia-yuan (???), the deputy director of the DGBAS's statistics department, said that based on the data for the first two months local consumer prices appeared stable and edging higher at a mild pace.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel