September’s R0.67 hike in the fuel price saw the Consumer Price Index increase from 4.8 percent to 5.1 percent.Photo: Reuters
JOHANNESBURG - Annual producer inflation, the producer price index (PPI), in South Africa rose faster than expected in September, surging to 5.2percent last month from 4.2percent in August - its highest level in six months, further putting a damper on hopes that the SA Reserve Bank will cut interest rates at its November meeting.

The latest rate of growth was the sharpest since March, when prices had risen the same 5.2percent.

Statistics SA said yesterday that prices rose faster for coke, petroleum, chemical, rubber and plastic products, which rose 1.9percent in September, compared to the 7.3percent recorded in the previous.

Prices for metals, machinery and computing equipment inched up 1.9percent in the period under review compared to the 1.3percent increase in August and transport equipment rose 3.7percent last month, compared with the 1.4percent recorded in the previous month.

However, data from Stats SA showed that prices advanced at a slower pace for food products, beverages and tobacco products, which rose 2.6percent in September compared with 3.1percent recorded in August. Prices for wood and paper products rose 7.7percent last month compared with 8percent in August.

Kamilla Kaplan, an economist at Investec, said that higher fuel price inflation lifted PPI inflation for the second consecutive month. “A key influencing factor on this component will have been the substantial 67c and 44c/litre price increases for petrol and diesel respectively in the month of September.

“The upward fuel price pressures should abate somewhat in October with the Department of Energy currently estimating a petrol price increase of only 3.2c/litre,” Kaplan said. On a monthly basis, Stats SA said producer prices increased 0.7percent in September, against a 0.4percent increase recorded in August.

September’s PPI also reflected manufactured food price disinflation. The contribution to headline PPI from the food, beverages and tobacco products category decreased for the ninth consecutive month to 0.9percent in September from 1percent in August. Microeconomics statistics website Trading Economics said producer prices change in South Africa averaged 5.83percent from 2013 until 2017, reaching a record high of 8.8percent in April 2014 and a record low of 2.61percent in February 2015.

The Stats agency said September’s 67c increase in the fuel price saw last month’s Consumer Price Index increase from 4.8percent on a yearly basis in August to a higher-than-expected 5.1percent in September. The central bank last month kept its repo rate unchanged at 6.75percent, taking a cautious approach to monetary policy as risks to the inflation outlook were on the upside.