GROWTH in the bulk prices of general goods eased in December for a third straight month to 6.7% year on year, tempering the 2022 average to 7.3%, which is still an 11-year high.
According to preliminary data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the general wholesale price index (GWPI) in December eased from 7.2% a month earlier. In December 2021, the GWPI rose 4.1%.
December marked the third consecutive month that the GWPI retreated after hitting a peak of 8.2% in September. The December reading was the lowest since the 5.6% posted in February 2022.
The 2022 average was more than double the 3.1% average recorded in 2021, but remained the highest since the 8.7% posted in 2011.
“Prices of items that were affected by global commodity price spikes due to the war in Ukraine — fuel prices, food inputs such as fertilizers, and the like, have softened. And this will eventually be reflected in the spending of Filipinos,” China Banking Corp. Chief Economist Domini S. Velasquez said in an e-mail.
The statistics agency said that slower growth in prices of the heavily weighted food commodity were a drag on the overall GWPI, with a year-on-year growth of 11.7% in December from 12.3% previously.
“(The) prices of food are higher than the previous month (on a month-on-month basis) pointing to ongoing pressure on food items,” Ms. Velasquez said.
Other categories that registered slower price growth month on month were chemicals including animal and vegetable oils and fats (2.2% in December from 2.5% in November), miscellaneous manufactured articles (3.7% from 3.8%), beverages and tobacco (5.2% from 7.9%), and mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials (22.2% from 25.9%).
Meanwhile, growth in bulk prices expanded in manufactured goods classified chiefly by materials (4.3% from 4.2%), and machinery and transport equipment (1.3% from 1.2%). Likewise, price growth in crude materials, inedible except fuels slowed to 17.7% from 18.2% in November.
Ms. Velasquez said that prices of mineral fuels, lubricants, related products, and food stood out most in 2022 as the Ukraine war affected global prices of many commodities.
In 2022, prices of food and mineral fuels, lubricants and related products rose 9.9% (from 2.1% in 2021) and 40.1% (from 17.7%), accordingly.
Russia invaded Ukraine exactly one year ago, applying the brakes on the global economic recovery following the pandemic.
Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao bulk price growth in December eased to 6.9% (from 7.4%), 5.6% (from 6.5%), and 4.5% (from 4.8%), respectively.
In 2022, wholesale price growth of general goods in Mindanao eased to 4.2% in 2022 from 4.6% previously.
Price growth in Luzon and the Visayas accelerated to 7.7% (from 3.2%) and 5.3% (from 0.4%).
“The overall deceleration in the year-on-year GWPI print is still good news for inflation moving forward. As wholesale prices trend down, we expect this to push back retail prices. This will eventually be reflected in the (consumer price index) and consumer spending,” Ms. Velasquez added.
Headline inflation was 8.7% in January, accelerating from 8.1% in December, driven by the surge in food prices and fuel costs, the PSA reported. — Ana Olivia A. Tirona