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Poland: inflation flat at 3.6 y/y in December

15.1.2002 19:10

The December CPI came out slightly below market forecast and roughly in line with our prediction; we forecasted 3.6 y/y and 0.1% m/m, instead of the actual 0.2 m/m. There is any significant surprise inside the structure. Food prices added 0.6%, only slightly less than indicated by the pre-liminary data. Fuels fell 2.3% m/m, more than in November as could be expected. Clothing and footwear prices further decelerated, their y/y change slid to a mere 0.2% y/y. Lei-sure prices run at 4.1%. It is apparent, that if there is a sig-nificant increase, it is on the regulated or imperfect market. Housing costs decelerated to 7.4% from 7.6% in Novem-ber, within this category, however, gas prices increased by 15,0% y/y, cold water by 14.9%, electric power by 14.1% and rent by 9.3%, while prices of household goods, mainte-nance added a mere 3.0% y/y. Something similar can be seen in post and telecoms, where prices increased by 1.3%, while monthly fixed telephone fee increased by 40.0% y/y and post prices rose by 7.9% y/y. Healthcare prices in-creased by 5.9%, education by 4.9%.

The recent decline in inflation is therefore not only the re-sult of declining food and fuels prices, but it is apparent that faltering domestic demand plays a role. Furthermore, we must not forget the impact of the stronger exchange rate, as the zloty firmed by 6.9% against the USD and by 7.7% against the euro from December 2000.

The average inflation in 2001 stood at 5.5%.

The central bank set the target for 20111 at 6-8% y/y in December. The actual result was by 240 bps lower than the lower bracket. Furthermore, the recent warnings by some MPC members that the inflation was going to accelerate at the end of 2001 did not prove correct. The structure of the inflation shows, that inflationary pressures remain subdued. The generally expected 150 bps rate cut at the meeting on January 29-30 is now even more certain. We can even see a room for further cuts.

(Jakub Dvorak, CSOB)

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