ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Economists see inflation slowing down starting October
A day before the release of official inflation figures for the month of September, economists on Thursday said they expect a slowdown in the last three months of the year.
At a press conference in Taguig City, World Bank lead economist for the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and Thailand Birgit Hansl said inflation is expected to taper down in the latter part of the year.
"Ultimately, the effect of higher inflation suppresses consumption growth and also at some point, perhaps investment growth," said Hansl.
"But ultimately, what we perceive for the second half of the year is that you will see pre-election spending starting and I think that will balance it out and the same also in the investment side," she explained.
Her remarks come a day before the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) is scheduled to release inflation figures for the month of September.
According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), inflation is seen to hit 6.8 percent in September. If realized, this will be the fastest since the 7.2 percent in April 2009.
In August, inflation hit 6.4 percent, the fastest in over nine years since the 6.6 percent in March 2009, mainly driven by food inflation.
"There are supply constraints that will need to addressed," Hansl said, noting factors such as the increase in utilities and transportation prices.
For his part, Land Bank of the Philippines market economist Guian Angelo Dumalagan echoed that inflation is likely to decelerate come October.
"We expect inflation to decline starting October 2018, although such decrease does not preclude the possibility of more rate hikes from the BSP this year," he said.
"The peso is currently under pressure because of the gradual but steady interest rate normalization of the US. As long as the peso continues to weaken, inflation expectations may remain elevated," he explained.
Just last week, the Philippine peso closed at P54.325:$1, the weakest of the local currency in nearly 13 years since closing at P54.425:$1 on November 22, 2005.
"To address this concern and curb domestic inflation, the BSP may need to match the move of the US Federal Reserve in order to protect the local currency from depreciating further," said Dumalagan.
The BSP has increased rates by four times so far this year, with the latest being a 50 basis point increase.
With this, the overnight borrowing rate was hiked to 4.50 percent, the overnight lending rate to 5.00 percent, and the overnight deposit rate to 4.00 percent.
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