Wholesale inflation softens marginally to 2.47% as food items turn cheaper

A vendor arranges vegetable at his stall in a market in Mumbai

The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) eased gradually to 2.47% in month of March 2018 compared to growth rate of 2.48% in February 2018 and 3.02% in January 2018.

The build up in inflation rate in the financial year so far was 2.47% compared to a build up rate of 5.11% in the corresponding period of the previous year.

The official WPI for "All Commodities" (Base: 2011-12=100) for the month of March, 2018 rose by 0.2 percent to 116.0 (provisional) from 115.8 (provisional) for the previous month.

However, on a year-on-year (YoY) basis, the consumer price index (CPI) last month stood higher than the 3.89 percent reported in March 2017.

Index for "Crude Petroleum & Natural Gas" group declined by 0.5 percent to 80.2 (provisional) from 80.6 (provisional) for the previous month due to lower price of crude petroleum (1%). However, the price of manufacture of cordage, rope, twine and netting and texturised and twisted yarn (1 per cent each) declined.

Food articles inflation contracted in March 2018 at 0.29 per cent against 0.88 per cent in the previous month.

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Retail inflation, as per data released last week, slipped to a five-month low of 4.28 percent in March on account of a decline in food prices.

Product-wise, the price of high-speed diesel rose by 6.12 per cent during March while that of petrol climbed by 2.55 per cent and for LPG by (-) 9.08 per cent.

As per CSO data, inflation in the vegetables segment cooled to 11.7 per cent in March from 17.57 per cent in the previous month. This is different from the consumer price index-based inflation, which reflects price changes in the retail market.

Sunil Kumar Sinha, Director, Public Finance and Principal Economist, India Ratings said: "Unlike the retail inflation which dipped by 16bp in March 2018 over the previous month, the wholesale inflation remained flat".

According to a government data released Monday, food articles witnessed deflation after about eight months as vegetables, cereals, pulses, eggs, meat and fish, turned cheaper.

To remind you, in its first monetary policy review for the fiscal, the Reserve Bank earlier this month maintained status-quo on interest rate citing inflationary concerns.

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