ECONOMY | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Consumer prices down 0.1% in April

Price gains in retail, electricity & gas, and services were all muted.

Consumer prices in April dipped 0.1% from last year, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) revealed. MAS Core Inflation edged down from 1.5% last month to 1.3%. The slower pace of price increases was seen across several major categories of the CPI basket.

Compared to last month, CPI-All items inflation was softer (from 0.2% to 0.1%) due to smaller increases in the prices of retail items, electricity & gas, and services, as well as a steeper fall in the cost of private road transport.

Retail prices rose by 0.9% in April, lower than the 1.3% increase in March, due to a steeper year-ago decline in the prices of personal care products, as well as a drop in the prices of recreation and entertainment goods. The cost of electricity & gas rose at a more moderate pace of 3.7% in April, compared to 6.2% in the previous month, reflecting a smaller increase in electricity tariffs.

Services inflation eased to 1.3% in April, from 1.4% in the preceding month. "A larger decline in telecommunication services fees and more modest increases in airfares and recreational & cultural services fees outweighed a stronger pickup in holiday expenses," MTI said.

Meanwhile, food inflation was stable at 1.4% in April, as a faster pace of increase in the cost of prepared meals was offset by a smaller increase in the prices of non-cooked food items.

The cost of private road transport fell by 0.8% in April, larger than the 0.6% decline in March. "This was due to a decline in car prices on a year-ago basis following a fall in Certificate of Entitlement (COE) premiums, which more than offset a steeper increase in petrol prices," MTI added.

Accommodation costs fell by 3.6% in April, larger than the 3.4% decline in the preceding month, as a smaller increase in the cost of housing maintenance & repairs more than offset a slower pace of decline in housing rentals. Meanwhile, CPI less imputed rentals on owner-occupied accommodation (CPI-ex OOA) inflation moderated to 0.9% in April, largely on account of a smaller increase in the prices of retail items and electricity & gas.

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