Nigeria’s annual consumer price inflation accelerated for the fourth straight month in March, edging up to 8.5% from 8.4% in February, data from the country’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed. The reading remained within the central bank’s 6%-9% target band for the 23rd straight month. The data, however, is indicative of the pressures related to the recent significant depreciation of the local naira currency amid macroeconomic headwinds stemming from the oil price drop and political tensions before the presidential election at the end of last month.
The annual core inflation, which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural products, accelerated to a 9-month high of 7.5% last month from 7.0% in February.
The annual food inflation (measured by the food sub-index, which includes farm produce and processed food) steadied at a 6-month high of 9.4%.
Compared to the previous month, Nigeria’s consumer prices rose 0.9% in March, accelerating from February’s 0.7% increase. Monthly core inflation edged up to 0.8% from 0.7%, and monthly food inflation quickened to 1.0% from 0.7%.
The average inflation for the 12-month period to end-March was 8.2%, with average food and core inflation at 9.5% and 6.9%, respectively.
In its latest monetary policy statement from March, Nigeria’s central bank noted that although inflation remains within the target range, it is concerned from its recent acceleration. The major risks to inflation include elevated aggregate spending in the run-up to the elections, the likely higher import prices given the weakening local naira currency and possible food supply shocks linked to insurgency and insecurity in some major agricultural zones of the country, it said. However, it expressed hope that its tight monetary policy stance and some recent administrative measures would help lock-in inflation expectations and further stabilise the naira exchange rate.
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