MANILA -- Inflation slowed for the first time this year in November, signalling that price increases have started to ease after staying at near 10-year highs, official data released Wednesday showed.
The Consumer Price Index rose 6 percent, compared to 6.7 percent in September and October. Before holding steady in the previous 2 months, inflation picked up for 8 straight months.
The median of a Reuters poll predicted November inflation at 6.2 percent. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas think tank and the Department of Finance gave forecasts of 5.8 to 6.6 percent and 6.3 to 6.7 percent respectively.
Lower prices of food and fuel led to slower inflation in November, analysts said. The 35-percent drop in fuel prices over 5 weeks was expected to shave "at least half of a percent" from the headline rate, said BPI lead economist Jun Neri.
"The latest number doesn’t mean that the reforms can already stop," Neri told ANC's Market Edge. More government measures to bring down rice prices can help push inflation below 4 percent, he said.
"It was lucky. It’s very crucial, this turn in inflation," Neri said, adding the slowdown in price spikes was mostly anticipated.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez last week said inflation would taper off towards the end of the year.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas hiked the benchmark borrowing rate by a cumulative 1.75 percentage points this year in the face of rising prices. During its last policy meeting earlier this month, it lowered its inflation forecast for 2019.