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Poland: CPI declines to 3.5% despite rising food prices

15.2.2002 17:37
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Polish CPI rose by 0.8%m/m in January, declining to 3.5% y/y from 3.6% in December. The market expected rather stagnation or an increase to 3.7% y/y. The decline was achieved despite the rather strong increase in food prices, that accelerated to 2.1% y/y from 1.6% y/y in December due to a strong 1.0% m/m rise. The prices of vegetables were the main source of the increase. Clothing prices declined by 0.3% m/m , which is less than in January 2000. As expected, housing costs increased significantly by 1.1% m/m, due to regular hikes in controlled prices. In January, rent, water, savage and energy prices went up. Transportation prices rose by 0.7% m/m, among others due to public transport. Fuel prices have already started to rise; we must expect further increase in February, given the depreciation of the zloty vs. the dollar.

January inflation was for the most part accounted for by volatile food and regulated prices. Other prices are strongly subdued. The y/y inflation decreased despite accelerating food prices in y/y terms. There should be any doubt that the weak Polish demand has pushed prices down and that there is no reason to keep interest rates at current levels (provided that the MPC is not more concerned by interest rates on household deposits than by the poor health of the economy). Another signal in this direction should be the Monday's January industrial output and January unemployment. As for the next month, due to the low increase in February 2001 by 0.1%, we must rather expect some acceleration of the y/y figure, as fuel and food prices are going to rise faster more than last year.

Jakub Dvorak, CSOB

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