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Consumer prices up 2.96% in Sept.

Taiwan's consumer price index (CPI) for September rose 2.96 percent from a year earlier in reflection of higher fruit and vegetable prices, government statistics showed yesterday.

The Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS), which compiled the monthly consumer price data, said fruit and vegetable prices increased in September due to the continuing effects of torrential rains in July and August.

A low comparison base for fruit and vegetable prices also contributed to the price growth, the agency said.

Other factors were higher dairy and fishery prices and rising fuel costs and electric rates, the DGBAS said.

However, the upward pressure on consumer prices was mitigated somewhat by lower prices for products such as meat, consumer electronics and communications services, the agency said.

The CPI growth in September was lower than the 3.43 percent increase recorded in August.

In September, food prices rose 6.54 percent from a month earlier, with fruit and vegetable prices up 29.04 percent and 26.26 percent year-on-year, respectively, the DGBAS said.

Transportation costs for September rose 2.28 percent largely because fuel costs rose 12.35 percent, while fares for Internet, mobile phone and fixed line phone use fell 5.62 percent to slow down the pace of the cost increase in transportation, it said.

The September core CPI index, which excludes vegetable, fruit, fish and energy prices, rose 0.93 percent from a year earlier, while the wholesale price index (WPI) for the month fell 2.19 percent year-on-year on falling chemical material, base metal and iron ore prices, the agency said.

In the first nine months of this year, the CPI rose 1.96 percent from a year earlier, while the core CPI gained 0.89 percent from a year ago and the WPI fell 0.22 percent year-on-year, according to the statistics.

While the CPI for the first nine-month period approached a government target to keep the annual consumer price increase for 2012 within 2 percent, DGPAS section head Wang Shu-chuan said it is hard to predict whether this year's CPI growth will top the government target.

However, Wang said local consumer prices are expected to trend lower on the back of a fallback in agricultural and industrial raw material prices in the global market.

Wang said the market had previously anticipated that the launch of a third round of quantitative easing by the United States Federal Reserve in mid September would boost agricultural and industrial raw material prices, but a sluggish global economy has dragged down demand.

In addition, as the weather has turned stable, the development serves as a positive lead to local consumer price in the future, Wang said.

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