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CPI inflation surges faster than expected in October to 26.6%

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  • CPI inflation up 4.7% compared to fall of 1.2% in Sept 2022.
  • Numbers mostly in line with the market expectations.
  • Impact of the high-base effect to kick in down the line.

ISLAMABAD: Accelerating faster than anticipated, Consumer Price Index (CPI)-based inflation for October 2022 surged to 26.6% year-on-year,  latest data showed, chiefly fueled by high-priced food and a hawkish monetary outlook. 

According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), consumer prices rose 4.7% compared to a fall of 1.2% in September 2022 month-on-month. 

The inflation is not far from a 47-year high.

The inflation crossed 20% in June 2022, topping the 47-year high of 27.3% in August 2022 year-on-year.

PBS in a statement said the rise in consumer prices in October from last month was boosted mainly by electricity and food prices, while the higher CPI from October last year was caused by rising costs of food and fuel.

The numbers are in line with the market expectations.

The market was mostly bracing for the headline inflation to increase by 4% month-on-month. 

Moreover, food inflation swelled 36.2% year-on-year, while transport prices sped up 53.4%, clothing and footwear prices rose 18.3% and housing, water and electricity costs rose 11.9%.

Brokerage Ismail Iqbal Securities had projected the inflation to clock in at 25.7% as against 23.2% in September. “Overall, we expect FY23 average inflation at 22%. The sequential increase will be led by normalisation of electricity tariff, quarterly house rent revision, and higher perishable food prices,” the brokerage said in a report. 

“The impact would be diluted to some extent by a reduction in petroleum prices,” it added.

However, analysts see the impact of the high-base effect in December, while the announcement of a number of subsidies on several items amid cooling international commodity markets might reduce inflation pressure to around 22-23% in November.

The CPI inflation in urban areas was registered at 24.6% year-on-year in the month under review as against an increase of 21.2% in September 2022 and 9.6% in October 2021.

It rose to 4.5% in October 2022 month-on-month compared to a fall of 2.1% in the previous month and an uptick of 1.7% in October last.

In rural areas, CPI inflation touched 29.5% year-on-year in the outgoing month vis-à-vis an increase of 26.1% in the previous month and 8.7% in October 2021.

It, month-on-month, increased to 5.0% in October 2022 as compared to an increase of 0.2% in the previous month and an increase of 2.2% in October last year.

Increasing inflationary pressures remain a major threat to the economy amid eroding foreign exchange reserves.

State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) in its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting held the interest rate unchanged, citing that the prevailing stance sustains just the right balance between managing inflation and maintaining the growth rate post-floods.

“On the one hand, inflation could be higher and more persistent due to the supply shock to food prices, and it is important to ensure that this additional impetus does not spill over into broader prices in the economy. On the other, growth prospects have weakened, which should reduce demand-side pressures and suppress underlying inflation,” MPC had said.

According to CPI numbers, inflation increased the sharpest in transport, food, housing, and restaurant and hotel groups in the outgoing month.

Persistently high inflation has severely strained the economy which is also under pressure from falling foreign exchange reserves, the rupee rout, and a yawning current account deficit.

SBP-held foreign exchange reserves stand at $7.4 billion, hardly enough to cover one month’s imports.

Devastating floods in August claimed more than 1,700 lives, while multiplying the economic problems by wiping out crops and infrastructure.

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The gold price in Pakistan today

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According to the All Sindh Sarafa Jewellers Association, the price of 10 grammes of 24 karat gold increased by Rs772 to Rs184,928 from Rs184,156, while the price of 10 grammes of 22 carat gold increased to Rs169,517 from Rs168,810.

These oscillations are strongly correlated with shifts in the US dollar’s value, demonstrating the complex interplay between gold prices and exchange rates.

This emphasises how local gold prices are impacted by events related to the global economy.

On the other hand, the cost of 24-karat silver was constant at Rs 2,570. Globally, too, the price of gold increased somewhat by $9 to $2,057 per ounce.

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Pakistan receives a $2 billion loan from China, according to the finance minister

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The $2 billion loan was one year ahead of schedule and became due in March. According to reports, Beijing had informed Islamabad of the decision.

The International Monetary Fund granted Pakistan’s cash-strapped economy a $3 billion standby arrangement last summer, but the country is still battling to recover from the financial crisis.

According to ratings firm Fitch, one of the top concerns confronting the next administration would be obtaining funding from bilateral and multilateral partners due to Pakistan’s precarious foreign situation, as was stated last week.

This event occurs one month after Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, the acting prime minister, asked for a $2 billion loan to be rolled over for a year in a letter to his Chinese counterpart.

In his letter, Kakar also expressed gratitude for China’s efforts to lessen Pakistan’s load

of foreign payments.

It is to be noted that Pakistan acquired safe deposits of $4 billion from China to address the balance of payments issue.

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“Ready to work with Pakistan’s new government,” the IMF said.

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In response to the former premier’s request, IMF Director of Communications Julie Kozak stated, “I’m not going to comment on ongoing political developments,” during a news conference.

She continued by saying that they “look forward to working on policies to ensure macroeconomic stability and prosperity for all of Pakistan’s citizens with the new government.”

In addition to stating that the plan is “supporting the authority’s efforts to stabilise the economy and to, of course, with a strong focus on protecting the most vulnerable,” Kozack said the lender increased the total disbursements under the Standby Arrangement (SBA) to $1.9 billion.

This has been accomplished by closely adhering to budgetary constraints and safeguarding the social safety net. In order to keep foreign exchange reserves growing and rein in inflation, a strict monetary policy stance has been maintained, the speaker stated.

The PTI founding chairman decided to write a letter to the international lender, asking it to demand an audit of the election held on February 8 before it proceeds with discussions with Islamabad for a new loan programme. This move prompted the IMF to release its statement.

In response to the former premier’s request, IMF Director of Communications Julie Kozak stated, “I’m not going to comment on ongoing political developments,” during a news conference.

She continued by saying that they “look forward to working on policies to ensure macroeconomic stability and prosperity for all of Pakistan’s citizens with the new government.”

In addition to stating that the plan is “supporting the authority’s efforts to stabilise the economy and to, of course, with a strong focus on protecting the most vulnerable,” Kozack said the lender increased the total disbursements under the Standby Arrangement (SBA) to $1.9 billion.

This has been accomplished by closely adhering to budgetary constraints and safeguarding the social safety net. In order to keep foreign exchange reserves growing and rein in inflation, a strict monetary policy stance has been maintained, the speaker stated.

The PTI founding chairman decided to write a letter to the international lender, asking it to demand an audit of the election held on February 8 before it proceeds with discussions with Islamabad for a new loan programme. This move prompted the IMF to release its statement.

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