Wholesale price growth slowed to 4.8% in March

GROWTH in the bulk prices of general goods eased to a 14-month low in March as inflation receded, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said.

Citing preliminary data, the PSA’s general wholesale price index (GWPI) rose 4.8% year on year in March, representing a slowdown from the 6.8% posted in February. The year-earlier growth rate had been 7.6%.

The March reading was the lowest since the 4.6% posted in January 2022.

In the first quarter, the index averaged 6.1%, up from 6% a year earlier.

The index reading may reflect “the easing of input prices used or bought for resale or processing. Note that headline inflation has continued to decline in the past months due to the easing, generally, of global oil prices,” UnionBank of the Philippines, Inc. Chief Economist Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion said in a Viber message.

In an e-mail, ING Bank N.V. Manila Senior Economist Nicholas Antonio T. Mapa attributed the slower growth in the GWPI to “base effects and moderating commodity prices.”

Among the eight categories of commodity, three posted declines. Prices of crude materials, inedible except fuels, fell 35.7% in March, accelerating from the 31.2% contraction in February. Also declining in price were mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials (-6.5% from 5.6%) and chemicals including animal and vegetable oils and fats (-2.4% from -1.2%).

Food price growth slowed to 10.2% in March from 14.2% in February. Also posting slower price growth were manufactured goods classified chiefly by materials (5.9% from 6.1%) and machinery and transport equipment (0.4% from 0.6%).

Price growth in beverages and tobacco accelerated to 7.9% in March from 6.2% in February. Miscellaneous manufactured articles price growth was 3.2%, up from 2.5% in February.

Wholesale price growth in Luzon and the Visayas eased, with both returning readings of 4.7%, down from 7% and 5.3%, respectively.

Meanwhile, price growth in Mindanao was 5.2%, up from 5.1% a month earlier.

Mr. Asuncion expects growth in wholesale prices to continue to slow.

“We see further disinflation in the coming months where headline inflation in end-2023 is expected at a low of 3.2%. Thus, prices of general wholesale items may further decline as well,” he added.

Headline inflation fell to 6.6% in April from 7.6% in March. This was the weakest inflation reading since the 6.3% posted in August 2022. — Mariedel Irish U. Catilogo