Costly Tomatoes, Onions Push Up Inflation by 3.36% in August

Vegetable prices have been rising sequentially due to seasonal spikes.

Updated
Business
2 min read
Consumer price in August rose 3.36 percent over the same month in 2016.
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Retail inflation in India continued its uptick for the second straight month, as rising vegetable prices pushed the macro indicator closer to the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) medium term target.

Consumer price in August rose 3.36 percent over the same month last year, faster than the 2.4 percent rise seen in July, according to data from the Central Statistics Office. Inflation accelerated for the second time after hitting a record low of 1.53 percent in June. Economists polled by Bloomberg had expected inflation to rise to 3.24 percent.

Vegetable prices have been rising sequentially due to seasonal spikes. Onion prices in August jumped nearly 57 percent over last year, and tomato prices surged as well, Bloomberg Intelligence economist Abhishek Gupta said in a note ahead of the data release.

The consumer food price index in August rose 1.52 percent over last year, after having fallen 0.29 percent in July.

Vegetable prices went up 6.1 percent year on year, compared to a 3.5 percent decline seen in the previous month.

Costly Tomatoes, Onions Push Up Inflation by 3.36% in August
(Photo: BloombergQuint)

Even among core inflation categories, which are not exposed to seasonal volatility, price pressures rose compared to a month ago. For instance, inflation in the housing category rose to 5.6 percent compared to 5 percent last month. Prices of clothing and footwear increased 4.6 percent year on year compared to 4.2 percent last month. Some of this increase could be linked to price adjustments following the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in July.

August inflation is the last set of price data that the central bank has to work with for its monetary policy review in October. The RBI had acknowledged easing inflation during its August review as it cut the benchmark lending rate by 25 basis points, while maintaining its neutral stance. The RBI expects retail inflation to accelerate 3.5-4.5 percent between October-December.

Inflation Internals

  • Food and beverage prices in August rose 1.96 percent over last year, and faster than 0.43 percent seen in July.
  • Fuel and light prices rose 4.94 percent year-on-year, compared to 4.8 percent last month.
  • Prices of clothing and footwear went up 4.6 percent, compared to 4.2 percent last month.
  • Housing prices rose 5.6 percent over last year, compared to a 5 percent rise in July.
  • Pan and tobacco prices rose 6.8 percent over last year, slightly faster than the 6.4 percent rise seen in July.
  • Prices of sugar and confectionery items went up over 7 percent in August.
  • Prices of pulses continued to soften, falling 24 percent in August, continuing the 24 percent drop seen in July too.

(This was first published on BloombergQuint.)

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