Philippines' Feb inflation at 2.5 pct, picking up for first time in 7 mths
MANILA, March 5 (Reuters) - Philippine inflation picked up for the first time in seven months in February, but the result is unlikely to alter expectations for the central bank to keep rates on hold in the near term. The consumer price index rose 2.5 percent in February, matching the median forecast of 2.5 percent in a Reuters poll and well within the central bank's 2.2-3.0 percent estimate for the month. It was the first time the index accelerated since July. Core inflation, which strips out volatile items, also registered a higher print of 2.5 perecent in February, while month-on-month inflation was 0.1 percent. The central bank next meets on March 26 to review policy. Change in pct Feb Jan Dec Nov Oct Sept Aug Headline (yr/yr) 2.5 2.4 2.7 3.7 4.3 4.4 4.9 Headline (mth/mth) 0.1 0.4 -0.2 -0.1 0.1 0.1 0.3 Core (yr/yr) 2.5 2.2 2.3 2.7 3.2 3.4 3.4 INFLATION DATA BREAKDOWN Items Feb Jan Weight (yr/yr) (in pct) Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverages 4.8 5.4 38.98 -- Food alone 4.9 5.6 NA Alcoholic Beverages & Tobacco 3.9 4.1 1.99 Clothing & Footwear 3.1 3.2 2.96 Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas & Fuels -1.1 -2.1 22.46 Furnishing, Household Equipment 2.2 2.4 3.22 Health 2.7 2.7 2.99 Transport -0.5 -1.3 7.81 Communication -0.1 0.0 2.26 Recreation & Culture 1.2 1.2 1.93 Education 5.1 5.1 3.37 Restaurant, Misc Goods & Services 1.5 1.6 12.03 Note: Weights were derived from the state's 2006 Family Income and Expenditures Survey KEY POINTS: - The central bank has a 2-4 percent inflation target for 2015-2018. - The latest money supply data showed M3 annual growth in January at 7.7 percent, after peaking at more than 30 percent early in 2014. - Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco told Reuters on Feb. 23 the central bank can afford to leave its policy settings on hold for most of this year, and the timing and magnitude of any interest rate hike would not be determined by the U.S. Federal Reserve's actions. - The central bank tightened monetary policy five times in as many meetings last year to rein in liquidity and tame price pressures. Aside from raising the main policy and special deposit account rates, it also raised banks' reserve requirements. - The Philippines was the second fastest-growing economy in Asia after China in 2014, having gathered momentum in the final quarter of the year. It has a 7-8 percent growth target this year after growth of 6.1 percent last year. (Reporting by Erik dela Cruz; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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