Singapore consumer prices edge up

Food inflation came in at 1.5 per cent, lifted largely by higher prices of non-cooked food, while healthcare costs went up 2.2 per cent year on year.
Food inflation came in at 1.5 per cent, lifted largely by higher prices of non-cooked food, while healthcare costs went up 2.2 per cent year on year. PHOTO: ST FILE

Index rises 0.4% year on year in Oct; food inflation up 1.5%, healthcare costs up 2.2%

Inflation remained muted last month despite stronger economic growth, though prices of some key items - including food, healthcare and education - continued to edge up.

The consumer price index - the main measure of inflation - rose 0.4 per cent in October compared with the same month last year, according to data released yesterday by the Department of Statistics. This was comparable to the preceding month's inflation rate.

Food inflation came in at 1.5 per cent, lifted largely by higher prices of non-cooked food, while healthcare costs went up 2.2 per cent year on year.

Private road transport inflation edged up 2.2 per cent in October, while education costs rose 2.6 per cent over the same month a year earlier, boosted by higher prices of tuition and other fees.

Meanwhile, the cost of accommodation fell by 4.2 per cent last month. This was because more service and conservancy charges (S&CC) rebates were given out this year compared with last year.

The rebates given to households in most HDB flat types last month were unchanged from those disbursed in October 2016.

However, households in executive/multi-generation flats received rebates this year, but not last year. This resulted in a negative contribution to year-on-year inflation last month.

Core inflation - which strips out accommodation and private road transport costs - was 1.5 per cent last month, on a par with September's figure.

Improving global demand is likely to push up imported inflation in the months ahead, said the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

 

Global oil prices are expected to increase slightly next year, compared with this year, while food commodity prices are also expected to rise modestly.

But overall cost pressures in the economy should remain relatively restrained, MAS and MTI said. This is because some slack remains in the job market.

"Meanwhile, other non-labour costs such as commercial and retail rentals continue to be subdued," they added.

"It will take a while before stronger economic growth feeds through into inflation pressures, given the current slack in the labour market," said ANZ economist Khoon Goh.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2017, with the headline 'Singapore consumer prices edge up'. Print Edition | Subscribe