Nothing big about Kuwait's inflation as rate reaches 9-year low

Published December 8th, 2013 - 11:31 GMT
Kuwait's National Bank says the country's inflation rate will reach 2.6 percent by the end of the year (Shutterstock)
Kuwait's National Bank says the country's inflation rate will reach 2.6 percent by the end of the year (Shutterstock)

Kuwait's annual inflation rate fell to a modest 2.7 per cent in October - its lowest in nine years, despite robust consumer spending and some improvement in business sentiment, said a report.

Kuwait's annual inflation rate fell to a modest 2.7 per cent in October from 2.9 per cent the previous month, its lowest since 2004, despite robust consumer spending and some improvement in business sentiment, said a report.

The performances of the individual components varied, though a further deceleration in food price inflation was among the key movements through the month.

The food price inflation fell to 3.5 per cent y/y from 4.5 per cent in September, its fifth consecutive monthly decline, stated the National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) in its latest report.

Given the component’s large weighting in the CPI (18 per cent), this move subtracted some 0.2 per cent points from the overall inflation rate in October.

Indeed, the decline in food price inflation over the past five months has more than accounted for the deceleration in inflation overall through the period. In aggregate, other components have gone the other way. Softer food price inflation has been driven by weakness in the fresh fish component, said the country's top lender.

According to NBK, the inflation is on track to average a modest 2.6 per cent in 2013, while a small acceleration is seen in 2014.

In addition to food, the ‘other goods & services’ category contributed to the decline in inflation. Inflation in the segment fell from 0.4 per cent y/y in September to -0.4 per cent in October, its first negative rate since 2007. The move took 0.1 per cent points off the overall inflation rate.

This component – which includes cosmetics, jewellery and certain business charges, amongst other things – can be volatile, warned NBK.

Its precipitous decline from a peak of 6.3 per cent y/y in November 2012 has been driven by a base effect: a surge in the price of gold jewelry in mid-2012 which has now fallen out of the annual comparison, it added.

Separately, deflation in the clothing & footwear segment intensified to -0.8 per cent y/y, from -0.6 per cent in September. But the change was not large enough to have a noticeable effect on the overall inflation rate.

Along with the ‘other goods & services’ segment mentioned above, the dramatic decline in inflation in this segment over the past year has been key to reducing inflation overall. Taken together, these two components have reduced the headline inflation rate by 0.9 per cent points over the past year, helping to keep ‘core’ (i.e. excluding food) inflation – now at 2.5 per cent – low.

On the upside, there were significant increases in inflation in the ‘furnishing & household maintenance’ and ‘recreation & culture’ segments, said the top Kuwaiti lender.

Each added 0.1 per cent points to the y/y inflation rate in October. Housing rent inflation was unchanged at 4.8 per cent y/y in the month. But it is up significantly over the past year and is easily the largest source of upward pressure on the inflation rate overall. Other components were – for the most part – unchanged in October.

NBK pointed out that going forward, inflation was expected to remain contained, though start to drift higher early next year.

"Over the next couple of months, inflation could actually fall as a result of a base effect-driven fall in housing rent inflation. But this effect will be temporary. Increases through next year should be tempered by a combination of modest international food price rises, soft import price pressures, and moderate economic growth. We look for inflation to average 3 per cent in 2014, from 2.6 per cent this year," he added.


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