WPI inflation hits eight-month low at 2.47% in March

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Lastly, dairy product prices fell at the latest GDT auction, dragged lower by an unexpected plunge in anhydrous milk fat.

This has pulled down the overall inflation rate marginally to 2.47 per cent in March, from 2.48 per cent in February, even as oil inflation more or less neutralised the impact of food inflation.

"After the surge seen in the previous month, the core-WPI inflation eased to a three month low 3.6 per cent in March 2018 from 3.9 per cent in February 2018, reflecting a favourable base effect as well as the trend in a number of sub-sectors with a substantial weight such as textiles, basic metals, fabricated metal products, and motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers etc".

Despite keeping rates on hold, the committee said that "ongoing tightening of monetary policy" would be needed to bring inflation back to the Bank's 2 per cent target.

The Department of Statistics is set to announce March inflation on Wednesday.

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The inflation data for January was revised upwards to 3.02 per cent from the provisional estimate of 2.84 per cent.

"Despite our base-case assumption, Bank Negara Malaysia's future actions are expected to be data-dependent".

Food and beverage prices were 0.9 per cent up, on an annual basis, while the price of utilities and housing has increased by 4.6 per cent and transportation costs were 0.7 per cent higher compared to a year earlier.

Sunil Sinha, Principal Economist, India Ratings & Research, said inflation in the food article category - which has been declining since November 2017- turned into deflation in March 2018. The retail inflation slowed down mainly on account of easing food prices including vegetables. However, the March 2018 inflation is higher than 3.89 per cent recorded in the same month past year.

It may be too early to draw any inference from such movement, the divergence suggests that impulse of demand recovery at the moment is being felt at the retail level and not so much at the wholesale level, he said. The index for electricity group rose by 2.9 per cent to 105.4 (provisional) from 102.4 (provisional) due to higher price of electricity (3 per cent).

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