CAIRO: Egypt’s urban annual consumer price inflation climbed to 13.6 percent in the year to January, at the top end of analysts’ expectations, state statistics agency figures indicated on Wednesday.
Annual inflation in December was 13.3 percent, the figures showed.
Eight analysts had forecast urban inflation – the most closely watched indicator of prices – between 13.0 and 13.6 percent. The average forecast was 13.25 percent.
Beltone Economist Reham ElDesoki said food prices were higher in January due in part to increased demand ahead of the Jan. 7 Coptic Christmas.
“We expect headline inflation to decline in the months to come, dipping below 10 percent in March and remaining in single digit territory for the remainder of the year, in the absence of supply shocks or one-off factors, ElDesoki said in an emailed statement after the release of the figures.
Last month’s data, published on the agency’s website, showed the consumer price index climbed to 143.6 from 126.4 in January 2009.
Prices of food and beverages, which account for more than 40 percent of the weighting of the basket Egypt uses to measure inflation, rose 24 percent from January 2009, the index published by the statistics agency CAPMAS indicated.
Analysts are looking for signs that annual urban inflation may be declining, making it easier for the central bank to reduce its key overnight interest rates, which the bank left unchanged at its last three meetings.
The bank’s next monetary policy meeting is on March 18.
“With our expectation of lower inflation, going forward, we believe interest rates will remain stable at the current levels in the first half of 2010, ElDesoki said.
Meanwhile, January core annual inflation rose to 7.39 percent, higher than analysts had predicted, from 6.85 percent in December, the central bank said on Wednesday.
Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast that core annual inflation had risen to an average of 6.88 percent in the year to January. Forecasts ranged from 6.6 percent to 7.1 percent.
The figure, which the central bank uses to help determine its monetary policy, excludes fruit and vegetables as well as goods with regulated prices such as petrol.