Feb 262013

MANILA, Philippines – Inflation could settle between 2.8 percent and 3.7 percent this month as lower food and electricity prices offset oil price hikes, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said yesterday.

The forecast falls at the lower end of this year’s official three to five-percent target. Inflation picked up to three percent in January after settling at 2.9 percent in  December 2012.

On average, however, consumer prices rose 3.2 percent last year.

“Results of the BSP’s latest forecasting exercises suggest that average inflation for 2013 and 2014 could still settle at the lower half of the government-set target range,” BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said in a text message to reporters.

 “(This reflects) continued manageable inflation pressures and well-anchored inflation expectations,” he added.

For February, Tetangco said upside pressures coming from a spate of oil price adjustments – and their possible impact to other commodity prices – could nudge consumer prices higher.

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Local oil firms have hiked prices five times this year compared with only three rollbacks, according to monitoring by the Department of Energy.

Diesel and gasoline prices have risen by P2.05 and P3.05 per liter from their levels end of last year. As of Monday, diesel now has a price range of P41.25-44.30, while gasoline price range was pegged at P51-P57.39.

Price pressures from oil prices could be tamed by lower electricity rates this month, Tetangco said.

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