Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Hundreds, Bru !!

The Monetary Policy Committee of the SA Reserve Bank has cut the repo rate by 100-basis-points, Governor Tito Mboweni said on Tuesday.

The repo rate now stands at 9.5 percent while prime has been reduced to 13 percent.

"The global economy has continued to weaken significantly in recent months as a result of the turmoil in the financial markets.

"There is growing uncertainty regarding the depth and duration of the economic slowdown," Mboweni said.

He added that the South African economy had not escaped the impact of these developments, and domestic production had contracted as a result of weak domestic demand and a significant decline in export demand.

"Against this backdrop of widening domestic and global output gaps, the balance of risks to the inflation outlook has changed somewhat," he said.

Mboweni said that inflation — as measured by the reweighted and reconstituted consumer price index (CPI) for all urban areas — measured 8.1 percent in January 2009.

Food and non-alcoholic beverages prices, which increased at year-on-year rates of 15.7 percent in January, contributed 2.4 percentage points to total inflation.

The housing and utilities category contributed 2.1 percentage points, and together with food accounted for more than half of the measured inflation increase, Mboweni said.

The transport component had a minimal impact on the overall CPI as a result of the 20.3 percent reduction in petrol prices during January.

Producer price inflation, which reached 19.1 percent in August 2008, continued its downward trend, he said, measuring 9.2 percent in January 2009.

Despite the depreciation of the rand during 2008, producer prices of imported goods declined at a year-on-year rate of five percent in January.

Turning to the inflation outlook, Mboweni said the most recent central forecast of the Reserve Bank showed a near-term deterioration in the inflation outlook but a more favourable trend was forecast for the medium term, which was the relevant time frame for monetary policy.

Consumer price inflation was expected to average 8.1 percent in the first quarter of 2009 and then to decline to below six percent in the third quarter of the year.

As a result of technical base effects, inflation was then expected to marginally exceed the upper end of the inflation target range, before returning back to within the range in the second quarter of 2010.

It should remain there until the end of the forecast period in the fourth quarter of 2010, when it was expected to average 5.3 percent.

"The heightened levels of uncertainty and the rate of change of global developments make these forecasts subject to higher risk than is usually the case," Mboweni warned.

He said the inflation outlook had been dominated by the continued weakening of the global economy and financial markets, notwithstanding significant monetary and fiscal measures introduced by central banks and governments.

"The decline in global demand has resulted in a marked contraction in international trade," he said.

He reminded South Africans that the International Monetary Fund, which in January was forecasting global growth to average 0.5 percent in 2009, now expected the global economy to contract by up to one percent in 2009.

"Numerous industrialised and developing countries are already experiencing negative growth.

"World inflation is being restrained by declining demand and lower commodity prices which are expected to remain subdued under these conditions of negative or low growth.

"The weak global demand has been reflected in the export performance of the South African economy and domestic demand conditions had also deteriorated further," he said.

"Domestic demand conditions are expected to remain under pressure as a result of declining disposable incomes, tighter credit conditions and negative wealth effects."

Mboweni said the upside risks to the inflation outlook emanated primarily from cost-push pressures, particularly from administered prices.

"These include possible higher-than-expected electricity tariff increases," he said.

The decline in inflation might also be delayed by continued high rates of increases in food prices, despite marked declines in producer price food inflation, Mboweni said.

No comments: