Pressure remains as Türkiye’s inflation seen nearing 70% in March

Consumer price inflation in Türkiye is envisaged to have reached nearly 70% in March, mainly driven by food and services sector prices, according to surveys, keeping up pressure for tight monetary policy.

In January, inflation climbed 6.7%, partly due to a significant minimum wage jump and an array of new-year price updates. February monthly inflation was 4.53%, propelled by food prices and the lingering impact of the minimum wage hike on the services sector.

The median estimate of 11 economists for March inflation stood at 69.1%, with forecasts ranging from 68.2% to 70.54%, according to a Reuters poll. The monthly forecast for price rises ranged between 3% and 4.42%.

Separate data on Monday showed that retail prices in Istanbul rose 3.93% monthly in March, according to the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce (ITO).

Year-over-year, the index reflecting wholesale price movements recorded a 63.21% increase.

Compared to the previous month, health and personal care expenses rose 3.05% and food jumped 3.62%, while household goods and housing expenses climbed 6.01% and 3.90%, respectively.

The data showed an increase of 1.06% in transportation and communication expenses and 8.96% in clothing expenses.

Türkiye’s central bank, which had already hiked rates by 3,650 basis points since June before pausing its tightening, decided to hike the benchmark rate by another 500 basis points on March 21 due to deterioration in the inflation outlook.

In the minutes of its rate-setting meeting, the central bank said leading indicators point to a slowdown in the underlying trend of inflation in March. It added that price increases in food, services and core goods would impact last month’s inflation print.

The Reuters poll showed annual inflation falling to 43.75% by year-end, higher than the central bank’s 36% target, based on the median estimate. Forecasts ranged between 40.1% and 48%.

The Turkish lira depreciated more than 36% against the U.S. last year and is some 8.6% weaker so far this year.

It briefly touched 33 versus the dollar in overnight trade in very thin liquidity following the municipal election results on Sunday. At 7:30 a.m. GMT, it stood at 32.43, slightly weaker than Friday’s close. Many foreign financial markets were closed on Monday for the Easter holidays.

The Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) will release March inflation data on Wednesday.

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