Cheaper food drives inflation down in March hinh anh 1The consumer price index (CPI) in March falls 0.21 percent from the previous month. (Photo: VietnamPlus)

Hanoi (VNA) – The consumer price index (CPI) in March fell 0.21 percent from the previous month, which was largely driven by lower prices in seven of the 11 groups of consumer goods and services, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

GSO General Director Nguyen Bich Lam said that the CPI in March rose 0.69 percent from last December, and 2.7 percent year-on-year.

The core inflation, which is the CPI excluding food items, energy products, and state-managed health care and educational services, in the month dropped 0.06 percent against February.

The CPI in the first quarter grew 2.63 percent as compared to the same time last year, the slowest pace for Q1 in the past three years.

Do Thi Ngoc, deputy head of the GSO’s Consumer Price Index Department, said the CPI drop was sparked by weak after-Tet consumption, and a loss in consumer confidence due to outbreaks of African swine fever.

Besides, the State’s oil and gas price management together with flexible monetary policy to stabilise the macro-economy also dragged down the index, she added.

A fall in prices of seven out of 11 groups of consumer goods

Report from the GSO showed that the price index of seven out of 11 groups of consumer goods and services were pushed down in March.

To be more specific, food and food services experienced a fall of 1.42 percent; garment, headwear and footwear (down 0.17 percent); culture, entertainment and tourism (0.09 percent); beverage and cigarette (0.08 percent); postal and telecom services (0.07 percent); household equipment and utensils (0.03 percent); and other goods and services (0.04 percent).

Particularly, prices of fresh food decreased strongly from 0.75 percent to 5.3 percent from February, and prices of meat declined 5.3 percent as a result of the African swine fever outbreaks. Therefore, the restaurant and catering services contributed 0.51 percent to the CPI fall in the month.

Four groups with higher prices are transport (up 2.22 percent), housing and construction materials (0.78 percent), medicine and health care services (0.03 percent), and education (0.01 percent). However, they could not help rise the CPI.

Cheaper food drives inflation down in March hinh anh 2Fresh vegetables are sold at lower prices in the month.
(Photo: VietnamPlus)

Gold prices dwindle while foreign exchange rate soars

The US dollar value slightly increased in March thanks to robust signs from the US economy coupled with new advancements in the US – China negotiation, easing investors’ concerns about global economic recession.

Ngoc said that the VND/USD exchange rates remained stable during the month, hovering at around 23,225 VND/ USD as Vietnam had ample foreign currency reserves while demand for foreign exchange was low in the beginning of the year.

The slight rise in USD price drove the gold prices down 1.5 percent as compared to February. Therefore, gold prices in the domestic market dropped 0.49 percent at around 36.9 million VND (159.12 USD) per tael.

Cheaper food drives inflation down in March hinh anh 3(Source: VietnamPlus)

Last month, CPI rose by 0.8 percent over January, and 2.64 percent year-on-year.

The two-month index inched up 2.6 percent compared with that of the same period last year.

Among the 11 main commodity groups, nine reported increases in prices, with food and catering services experiencing the highest at 1.73 percent – driven by high demand during the Tet (Lunar New Year) holidays.

The price of housing and building materials rose by 0.69 percent; culture, entertainment, and tourism by 0.66 percent; and drinking and tobacco by 0.35 percent.

Decreases were seen in prices of education (0.47 percent) and post and telecommunications (0.03 percent).

During the month, gold prices were up 1.53 percent month-on-month, but down 0.16 percent year-on-year. In contrast, the price of the US dollar fell 0.09 percent against the previous month, but rose by 2.24 percent from the same period last year.

According to the GSO, February’s inflation inched up 0.48 percent compared with that of January, and 1.82 percent year-on-year, pushing the two-month inflation up 1.82 percent year-on-year./.