June inflation reached 0.6% m-to-m, a shade above our forecast of 0.5% and a bit more above the market consensus of 0.3%. On the annual basis, inflation reached 4.1%, the highest level since end of 1998. As with the monthly inflation, our forecast was a bit closer than the market expectation (4.0% vs. 3.9%). Net inflation grew even faster, 0.7% m-to-m, as it controlled for changes in VAT on several services introduced during this spring. Net inflation reached 2.6% y-to-y, as opposed to 2.1% in May, to 2.5% our forecast and 2.4% market consensus. It remains, however, safely below the 200 end-year target of 3.5-5.5% and within the 2001 end-year target of 2-4%.
Higher-than-expected inflation in June was driven by several factors. Food prices jumped by 0.4% m-to-m, a rise that brought the annual food price index to 0.8%, highest level since November 1998. Frustratingly for analysts, it was fresh potato harvest that influenced food prices most (it happens every year, only in different months, as potatoes ripe…). Transport prices grew 3.2% m-to-m, mainly on back on higher oil prices (+7.1% in June) and due to higher regulated prices in rail transport (+14.2%). Leisure prices grew by 1.0% m-to-m, as foreign holidays are getting pricey again.
Overall, we interpret the June inflation numbers as neutral for the monetary policy. While inflation did increase slightly more than was expected, the growth, however, was driven by factors otside the monetary policy reign - mainly oil and food prices.Therefore, there is little in the numbers that would give raise to a central bank's tightening of monetary policy.
(Monika Prochazkova, Ondrej Schneider)