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Nation's July CPI reaches 17-month high on the back of rising food prices

TAIPEI--Taiwan's consumer price index (CPI) for July hit a 17-month high as food prices rose sharply, government statistics showed Tuesday.

The CPI climbed 1.75 percent in July from a year earlier to the highest level since February 2013, a month in which inflation grew 2.96 percent year-on-year, according to data from the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS,行政院主計總處).

Food Prices Up 4.27%

On a monthly basis, the local CPI for July fell 0.04 percent. After seasonal adjustments, domestic inflation in July dropped 0.13 percent from a month earlier, the DGBAS said.

Food prices rose 4.27 percent year-on-year, with the price of eggs increasing 18.90 percent, meat 12.51 percent, fruit 10.09 percent, and fishery products 7.32 percent, the DGBAS said.

Dining-out costs increased 4.24 percent from a year earlier, the highest level in 66 months, accounting for almost 10 percent of the local CPI calculation, according to the data.

The DGBAS said the statistics showed that a Taiwanese household with monthly expenses of NT$60,000 (US$2,000) had to spend an additional NT$662 a month in dining-out costs in July compared with the same month last year.

It will be hard for dining-out expenses to come down, but the growth pace has moderated, the government agency said.

Living costs, meanwhile, rose 1.19 percent in July from a year earlier after the government implemented its second-stage electricity rate hike of 5.69 percent, while the price of natural domestic gas increased 2.79 percent.

Egg Prices Up Most

The DGBAS said the price of a basket of 17 household necessities that included rice, pork, bread, eggs, sugar, cooking oil, shampoo and toilet paper, rose by an annual 6.11 percent in July, largely in reflection of higher food prices. It was the fifth consecutive month that the prices of the 17 household necessities increased by more than 6 percent, the DGBAS said.

Among them, egg prices spiked 22 percent from a year earlier because of low production caused by the hot weather, the DGBAS said.

The sharp rise in the price of food, which accounts for the greater part of a low-income family's budget, pushed the July CPI up 2.05 percent year-on-year for low-income families, 1.82 percent for middle income families, and 1.60 percent high-income families, the data showed.

The core CPI, which excludes fruits, vegetables and energy, rose 1.54 percent in July from a year earlier, while the wholesale price index (WPI) gained 0.81 percent year-on-year, the DGBAS said.

The WPI gain reflected higher electricity rates and an increase in the prices of base metals and crude oil products, it said. This was, mitigated however, by a drop in the prices of computers, and electronics and optoelectronics products, it added.

In the first seven months of the year, Taiwan's CPI rose by an annual 1.29 percent, its core CPI 1.07 percent, and its WPI 0.42 percent.

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A worker at a fruit distributor prepares bananas for shipping, in Pingtung, yesterday. The per-kilo price of bananas has recently surged dramatically from the range of NT$12 to NT$14, to around NT$25 per kilo, on account of damage to plantations in the wake of Typhoon Matmo, which struck Taiwan late last month. (CNA

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