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Singapore's March headline inflation seen at over 2-year high: poll

[SINGAPORE] Singapore's annual headline inflation is seen staying elevated at 0.7 per cent in March, a Reuters poll showed, matching February's pace which was the biggest rise since September 2014.

The all-items consumer price index (CPI), however, is seen as relatively less relevant for policymaking than the Monetary Authority of Singapore's (MAS) core inflation measure.

The poll predicted the core measure to have increased 1.3 per cent in March year-on-year, up from 1.2 per cent in February.

On the whole, the CPI numbers aren't likely to shift the central bank's neutral policy stance.

The MAS held policy steady last week, saying a "neutral" stance will be needed for an extended period as it looked to support an economy that contracted in the first quarter amid lingering risks to the global outlook.

Both headline and core inflation are likely to remain elevated, said Vishnu Varathan, senior economist for Mizuho Bank.

"It's partly due to base and seasonal effects and also it is in line with the fading off of the fuel disinflation", he said.

In January, core CPI had risen 1.5 per cent from a year earlier, the fastest rise in more than two years.

With inflation edging higher in line with official forecasts and exports having picked up since late last year, most analysts expect Singapore's central bank to keep policy on hold this year, rather than ease further.

The central bank's core inflation measure excludes changes in the price of cars and accommodation, which are influenced more by government policies.


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