Singapore’s core inflation unchanged at 5.1% in December, averaged 4.1% for 2022

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CNA

25th January 2023 – (Singapore) Singapore’s core inflation in December remained unchanged at 5.1 per cent for the third consecutive month, official data showed on Wednesday.

This is slightly higher than the 5 per cent forecast by a Reuters poll of economists.

Smaller price increases for retail and other goods, as well as electricity and gas, were offset by higher inflation for food and services, said the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI).

Core inflation excludes accommodation and private transport costs.

The headline consumer price index, or overall inflation, was 6.5 per cent in December, lower than the 6.7 per cent in November, mainly due to slower private transportation inflation.

For the whole of 2022, core inflation averaged 4.1 per cent, higher than the figure of 0.9 per cent in 2021. Overall inflation came in at 6.1 per cent, up from 2.3 per cent the previous year.

Both sets of figures are in line with government estimates.

Authorities said core inflation is projected to stay elevated in the first half of this year before slowing more discernibly in the second half, citing upside risks to the outlook, such as fresh shocks to global commodity prices.

FOOD, SERVICES INFLATION ROSE

Core inflation had been rising steadily in 2022, hitting a near 14-year high of 5.3 per cent in September before holding steady at 5.1 per cent for the rest of the year.

In December, food inflation rose to 7.5 per cent from 7.3 per cent in the previous month, mainly due to higher non-cooked food inflation.

Services inflations also rose, hitting 3.7 per cent from 3.6 per cent in November, mainly because of a larger increase in the cost of holiday expenses. 

“At the same time, telecommunication services fees fell at a slower pace while tuition and other fees rose more steeply,” said MAS and MTI. 

Electricity and gas inflation dipped to 16.5 per cent in December from 16.7 per cent in the previous month.

Inflation for retail and other goods also fell to 2.8 per cent from 3.3 per cent, due to a fall in the cost of telecommunication equipment and personal effects as well as smaller increases in the prices of clothing and footwear and household durables.

December’s private transport inflation dropped to 15.5 per cent from November’s 17.2 per cent, as car and petrol prices rose at a more gradual pace. 

Accommodation inflation also edged down from 4.8 per cent to 4.7 per cent, as housing rents rose at a slower pace. 

OUTLOOK 

In 2023, taking into account all factors including the GST increase, headline inflation is projected to average 5.5 per cent to 6.5 per cent, while core inflation is forecast to come in at 3.5 per cent to 4.5 per cent.

Excluding the transitory effects of the GST hike, headline inflation is projected to hit between 4.5 per cent and 5.5 per cent, while the figures for core inflation are expected to range from 2.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent.

“There are upside risks to the inflation outlook, including from fresh shocks to global commodity prices and more persistent-than-expected external and domestic sources of inflation,” said MAS and MTI.

They noted that global supply chain frictions have continued to ease, and prices of energy and food commodities had come off the peaks earlier in 2022 although they remain elevated.

Additionally, labour markets in major advanced economies are still tight, keeping wage pressures strong.

“Overall, as accumulated costs pass through global value chains, Singapore’s imported inflation is expected to remain firm for some time,” said MAS and MTI.

On the domestic front, although electricity tariffs have come down from their peak in the third quarter of 2022, the cost of utilities is likely to remain elevated.

“As such, businesses are expected to continue to pass through accumulated import, labour and other costs to consumer prices amid resilient demand,” said MAS and MTI.

Meanwhile, car and accommodation cost increases are likely to stay firm in the quarters ahead on the back of tight Certificate of Entitlement quotas for cars and strong demand for rental housing.

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