Singapore CPI Rises Faster Than Expected as Policy in Focus
(Bloomberg) -- Consumer prices in Singapore rose faster than expected last month, sharpening attention on whether the central bank will further tighten policy at its April meeting.
Higher services and food drove up core inflation in October, along with a smaller drop in the cost of retail and other goods, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a statement Tuesday.
For details on the inflation data, click here.
“Rising imported and labor costs, alongside the recovery in domestic economic activity, will support a steady increase in core inflation in the quarters ahead,” they said.
Higher consumer prices have taken center stage for policy makers globally amid supply chain bottlenecks and stronger commodities costs. The stubborn inflation figures risk forcing central banks to raise interest rates and roll back easy monetary settings that have helped economies rebound from the pandemic.
“The figures do solidify the chances of an MAS tightening,” said Alvin Tan, head of Asia FX Strategy at RBC Capital Markets.
Ravi Menon, managing director of the MAS, said earlier this month that the “balance of risk has shifted toward inflation” and that the central bank is “ready to act.”
The Singapore dollar, which the central bank uses as its main policy-setting tool, erased half of its earlier loss and traded at 1.3658 as of 1:32 p.m. local time. Its 1.3% slip since a surprise MAS decision in October to “slightly” raise the currency band slope has mainly been driven by strength in the U.S. dollar.
“Markets will come around to another tightening,” by the MAS in April, said Khoon Goh, head of Asia research at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group in Singapore. “Maybe this will be the catalyst to halt the slide in the Singapore dollar.”
Core inflation, which excludes accommodation and private transport costs, increased 1.5% in October, Tuesday’s data showed, compared with a median estimate of 1.3% in a Bloomberg survey and 1.2% the previous month. Headline inflation advanced 3.2%, the highest since March 2013 and versus a survey median of 2.8%.
The MAS on Tuesday also reiterated its outlook for core inflation at 1%-2% next year, with headline prices growing 1.5%-2.5%.
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