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September 24, 2017

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Philippine inflation surges after deadly floods

MANILA -- Inflation surged to a seven-month high of 3.8 percent in August, the Philippine government said Wednesday, owing to a disruption to food supplies caused by deadly floods at the start of the month.

While still within the government's full-year 3-5 percent target, the figure is well up from the 3.2 percent in July, the National Statistics Office said. Prices rose 0.8 percent month on month.

However, it is still below the 4-percent level seen in January, when the government announced the first of three rate cuts this year.

Emmanuel Esguerra, deputy chief of the economic planning department, blamed the rises in supply disruptions from floods that hit Manila and parts of the main island of Luzon in August, killing at least 99 people and forcing nearly half a million people from their homes.

"Owing to the southwest monsoon that occurred last month, faster price adjustments were observed on food items, such as fish, vegetables and fruits," he said.

The government is keeping tabs on factors that could push up prices further, Esguerra added.

"Inflation remains manageable but government will remain vigilant against any undesirable trends," he said in a statement.

After the three rate cuts this year aimed at boosting economic growth, the Philippine central bank's key interest rates are at record lows.

Its overnight lending rate is 5.75 percent and overnight borrowing rate is 3.75 percent.

The average inflation rate for the first eight months stood at 3.2 percent.

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