Consumer inflation slows to 5.3%

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Johannesburg - South Africa’s inflation rate fell to 5.3 percent in November, giving the central bank room to keep borrowing costs unchanged.

Inflation eased from 5.5 percent in October, the Pretoria- based statistics office said on its website today.

The median estimate of 26 economists in a Bloomberg survey was 5.4 percent.

Much of the inflation rate is “determined by cost-push factors,” Kamilla Kaplan, an economist at Investec Ltd in Johannesburg, wrote in an e-mailed note to clients before today’s data.

“South African household finances are strained by higher non-discretionary costs, particularly by fuel and administrative tariff hikes.”

While the Reserve Bank kept the benchmark repurchase rate at 5 percent on November 21, Governor Gill Marcus said the Monetary Policy Committee spent considerable time discussing raising interest rates in the face of inflation threats.

Borrowing costs in Africa’s largest economy have been unchanged since July 2012 as price pressures from a weaker rand and the slowest economic growth since a 2009 recession limit the options of policy makers.

Gasoline prices have increased 11 percent this year as the rand lost 18 percent against the dollar, the worst performance among 16 major currencies tracked by Bloomberg. Inflation exceeded the central bank’s 3 percent to 6 percent target range in July and August.

The core inflation rate, which excludes food, non-alcoholic beverages, gasoline and energy costs, was unchanged for a third consecutive month at 5.3 percent in November, the statistics office said. - Bloomberg News


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