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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs                     30  September 2011

Inflations rises in Indonesia

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Inflation probably accelerated this month as prices increased because of the festivities that followed Ramadan and a weaker rupiah that lifted the cost of imports, analysts have said.

Even with consumer prices rising, the central bank is likely to keep its key interest rate steady in October and for the rest of the year on concerns about growth and possible capital outflow, they said.

The median forecast of seven economists surveyed by the Jakarta Globe put the headline annual inflation for September at 4.90 percent. That would be up from 4.79 percent in August, the Ramadan month.

Headline inflation is a measure of inflation taking into account all types of inflation, including fuel and food prices.

Juniman, an economist at Bank Internasional Indonesia, said spending patterns were back to normal after Indonesians splurged over the Idul Fitri holiday, pushing up the cost of food, clothing and transportation.

In August record prices for gold pushed up the core inflation rate, which strips away the volatility of food and energy prices.

"We believe the partial impact of Ramadan [on the inflation rate] is seen in September's data," said Eric Alexander Sugandi, an economist at Standard Chartered in Jakarta. "As such, domestic price increases for raw food and gold still significantly shaped September inflation."

The fasting month saw inflation accelerate for the first time in seven months in August. The consumer price index rose 4.79 percent in August from a year earlier, after slowing since January. The rate had been at a 14-month low in July at 4.61 percent.

With commodity prices likely to remain "lackluster" amid uncertainty over the state of the global economic recovery, Indonesia's headline inflation is seen as manageable, said Eugene Leow, an economist at DBS Group Research in Singapore. The central bank is targeting inflation at a range of 4 percent to 6 percent. Bank Indonesia's next policy meeting is scheduled for Oct. 11. DBS is penciling in 4.9 percent in annual headline inflation in September.

"Rate hikes are off the cards for the rest of the year. Worries are now centered on portfolio outflows and economic growth," Leow said.



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