Prices of food and food services in March dropped 1.42 percent from the previous month (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Lower prices in seven of the 11 groups of consumer goods and services helped drag the consumer price index (CPI) in March down by 0.21 percent from last month, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

GSO General Director Nguyen Bich Lam said on March 29 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 healthcare and educational services – in March dropped 0.06 percent against February. However, it still rose 1.84 percent from the same period last year.

The CPI in the first quarter grew 2.63 percent year on year – the slowest pace for Q1 in three years. The core inflation in the first three months climbed 1.83 percent against the same period of 2018.

Month-on-month decreases were seen in seven groups of goods in March, namely food and food services (down 1.42 percent); garment, headwear and footwear (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).

[Infographics: CPI growth in first quarter lowest in three years]

Four groups with higher prices are transport (up 2.22 percent), housing fees and construction materials (0.78 percent), medicine and healthcare services (0.03 percent), and education (0.01 percent).

Pointing out contributors to the GDP growth in Q1, Director of the GSO’s Price Statistics Department Do Thi Ngoc said consumption demand surged in January and February in anticipation of the Lunar New Year holiday, thus raising food prices. Prices of public transport services also increased as a result of soaring travel demand during the long holiday.

Additionally, global prices of essential commodities like fuel and steel rebounded, leading to higher import, export, industrial production and agricultural production cost indexes in Q1.

Meanwhile, factors helping to curb the CPI growth included lower consumption demand after the Lunar New Year festival, impact of the African swine fever epidemic, and petrol and gas prices revised down during the period, Ngoc noted.-VNA