Singapore consumer prices in January post biggest drop since 2009

SINGAPORE - Consumer prices fell in January for a third consecutive month largely on the back of a crude oil bust and lower food and services inflation, according to official data released on Monday.

The overall drop of 0.4 per cent from the previous year was sharper than the 0.3 per cent decline analysts had predicted. It was also the biggest decrease since December 2009, according to Bloomberg data.

A drop in consumer prices over the same period a year earlier is known as negative inflation or deflation.

Core inflation, which excludes accommodation and private road transport costs and is seen as a better gauge of daily expenses, slowed to 1 per cent in January after coming in at 1.5 per cent in December.

The main reason for January's negative overall inflation was a slump in crude oil prices, which led to cheaper electricity tariffs and petrol pump prices.

Prices of these oil-related items dived 13.6 per cent in January from the preceding year, after posting a 7.4 per cent slide from the previous year in December. Crude oil prices have roughly halved since June last year.

Food inflation also eased to 2.2 per cent in January from 2.7 per cent in December, and overall services inflation slowed to 1.2 per cent last month from 1.7 per cent the preceding month.

The moderation in services inflation was partly due to enhanced subsidies for medication in polyclinics and specialist outpatient clinics, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said in a joint statement on Monday.

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