Inflation climbs 17-months high of 6.95 pc in March on high food, fuel prices

New Delhi, April 12 : Adding to the woes of common man grappling with high prices of goods and services, consumer price index (CPI) based retail inflation climbed multi-months high of 6.95% in March, 2022. Retail inflation was 6.07% in February and 5.52% in March 2021. As per the NSO data released on Tuesday, Consumer Food Price Index (CFPI) inflation during March this year stood at 7.68%. The March inflation number has further breached the upper tolerance band of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) which factors in the key figure while setting policy repo rate. “CPI based inflation in March 2022 jumped to 17 months high of 6.95%. Most of the commodity groups touched multi months high – cereals and products (19 months), milk and products (16 months), vegetable (16 months), clothing (100 months), footwears (111 months), household goods and services (102 months), personal care (13 months) and food index (16 months),” said S l Kumar Sinha, Principal Economist, India Ratings and Research. Core inflation too jumped to 10 months high at 6.29% in March 2022. “Going forward gradual fuel price increase from end-March 2022 had limited impact on March 2022 inflation. But going forward, structural health inflation, higher commodity prices and weak currency will keep inflation rate elevated at least in first quarter of FY23,” said Sinha. Commenting on inflation number, Vivek Rathi, Director-Research at Knight Frank India said that March headline inflation was driven both by food and fuel prices. “The food prices inched up sequentially after a three month decline due to seasonal fluctuations; whereas the fuel prices rose pressured by escalating global fuel prices. As the domestic fuel price hikes were kept on hold for most part of Mar’22, the complete transmission of global fuel prices on domestic prices is expected to be seen in Apr’22 print.” he said. The NSO showed rural inflation was higher than urban inflation. “The Price data are collected from selected 1,114 urban Markets and 1181 villages covering all States/UTs through personal visits by field staff of Field Operations Division of NSO, MoSPI on a weekly roster. During the month of March 2022, NSO collected prices from 99.9% villages and 98.3% urban markets while the market-wise prices reported therein were 90.2% for rural and 93.2% for urban,” the NSO said. Nish Bhatt, Founder & CEO, Millwood Kane International said that this is for the third consecutive month that the retail inflation has remained above the 6% mark. He further stated that food prices and elevated fuel prices have led to a spike in the inflation levels. NK

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