Retail inflation, measured by the CPI, accelerated to a three-month high of 5.03% in February, data released by the National Statistical Office.
The jump of almost 100 basis points from January’s 4.06%, while partly attributable to a base effect given that price gains had relatively eased in February 2020.
RBI’s early February prognostication of continuing pressures in the prices of pulses and edible oils has been borne out by the last two months’ CPI data. Inflation of both essential food products has persisted in the double digits during the period, and in the case of the latter, accelerated disconcertingly to 20.8%
Price gains with respect to two other key sources of protein, meat and fish and eggs, also remain stuck above 11%. And the deflation in vegetable costs, which had helped offset the generalized pressure in food inflation, also waned considerably in February to minus 6.7% from minus 15.8% in January.
The upshot was that food and beverages as a combined category, with a weight of 54.2% in the CPI, witnessed an almost 160 basis points quickening in inflation to 4.25% last month, from January’s 2.67%.
Transport and communication, which directly reflect these prices, saw inflation rocket by more than 200 basis points to 11.4% in February, from 9.3% the preceding month.