Consumer prices in Taiwan rise 1.15 percent in January


TAIPEI — Taiwan’s consumer price index in January rose 1.15 percent from a year earlier, driven higher mainly by increases in the prices of fruit, fuel and electricity.

Higher dining-out costs and meat prices also pushed inflation slightly higher last month, the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday. On a month-on-month basis, however, the January consumer price index edged lower, falling 0.15 percent from the December level.

Department store sales promotions and lower vegetable prices were the main factors behind the modest decline.

Wang Shu-chuan, a DGBAS section chief, said inflation in January was mild, but upward pressure on prices was likely to be seen in February, especially as the Feb. 9-Feb. 17 Lunar New Year holiday approached.

The costs of several services, such as taxi rides, haircuts and hotel stays are expected to rise before and during the holiday.

Wang cautioned that the January data was insufficient to identify a rend and suggested waiting for the average CPI for January and February to get a better understanding of where prices are headed this year. According to the DGBAS, food prices in January rose 2.37 percent from a year earlier. Fruit prices rose 14.92 percent, largely because of smaller harvests due to unfavorable weather.

Dining-out costs and meat prices for January rose 2.36 percent and 1.81 percent, respectively, from a year earlier, while fuel prices were up 11.01 percent year-on-year.

Vegetable prices, on the other hand, were down 3.03 percent from January 2012, the statistics showed.

Wang said food prices have felt the effect in recent years of rising international grain prices driven higher by extreme weather conditions, while fuel prices have risen on an upsurge in international crude oil costs.

In January, core CPI, which excludes vegetable, fruit and energy prices, rose 0.33 percent from a year earlier, while the wholesale price index (WPI) was down 3.81 percent from a year earlier, fueled by a decline of 6.33 percent in the prices of imported goods.

Wang said a falling Japanese yen made goods imported from Japan, such as machinery and home appliances, cheaper in the local market during the month.