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Price rises fuelled February inflation climb

Price rises fuelled February inflation climb

CONSUMER price index (CPI) inflation accelerated in February, according to the latest government figures, as food and fuel prices continued to climb.

In its monthly CPI report, the National Institute of Statistics (NIS) said prices rose 7.3 percent last month compared to February 2009, higher than the 6.9 percent annualised inflation in January.

Month-on-month prices climbed 0.2 percent in February, it added.

“The main increase for all [the] index group [at a] 7.3 percent rate of inflation in February 2010 was due to ... food and non-alcoholic beverages ... household water, electricity, gas and other fuels,” the report said, also citing healthcare costs, tobacco and clothing.

An 8.6 percent spike in food and non-alcoholic beverage prices over the past year contributed to more than half of the annualised inflation rate, the NIS said.

Fuel price rises were also a significant inflationary factor. Gas prices rose 28.8 percent since February 2009, transport costs climbed 12.1 percent, and fuel and lubricants for personal transport were up 33.6 percent over the same period.

CPI data for March, due for release after the Khmer New Year holiday, is expected to show a further rise in the inflation rate after petrol retailers raised pump prices this month to the highest levels since 2008 on the back of rising international crude costs.

Premium fuel at garages in Phnom Penh is currently selling at 4,600 riels per litre (US$1.08). Crude climbed for a second day in New York on Monday, up 0.6 percent to $82.65 per barrel for May delivery.

“We expect prices to increase by an average of 4.5 percent in 2010 in response to renewed demand-side pressures, as economic growth begins to recover and global commodity prices edge higher,” the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit said in a monthly Cambodia outlook published this week.

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