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Disinflation momentum continues…
Consumer Price Index (CPI, 2005=100) moderated further in Mar ’09 to 3.5% YoY (Maybank IB estimate: 3.7% YoY; Consensus estimate: 3.6% YoY) from 3.7% YoY in Feb 09 and the peak of 8.5% YoY in Jul-Aug ‘08. This marked the seventh consecutive month of disinflation. MoM, inflation rate was down by 0.2%, the sixth sequential drop over the past seven months. Led by “disinflation” in Food and Non Alcoholic Beverages (FNAB) prices and “deflation” in Transport costs... The YoY increase in FNAB prices slowed for the sixth straight month while Transport costs declined for the fourth month in a row. Both account for 47.3% of CPI’s basket of goods and services and ¾ of last month inflation rate. There were no significant movements or notable changes in the price trends of other goods and services. Consequently, our measure of CPI ex-FNAB and Transport was little changed at 2.1% YoY last month compared with 2.2% YoY in the preceding month. Technical deflation is on the card as % YoY monthly inflation rate may turn negative between mid-year up to late-3Q09 or early-4Q09 due to the high-base from last year’s sharp hike in fuel and energy prices, as well as taking cue from the producer price index (PPI) which has turned negative since Nov ‘08. Therefore, maintaining our 2009 and 2010 inflation rate forecasts of 1% and 1.5% respectively, which is a marked deceleration from 5.4% in 2008 amid the environment of global/local economic downturn and lower commodity prices. Year-to-date inflation rate is 3.7%.