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CPI slows more than expected in May


South African inflation slowed more than projected to a 13 month-low in May, easing pressure on the central bank to continue raising interest rates.

The annual inflation rate was 6.3%, down from 6.8% in April, according to a report released by the statistics office on Wednesday. The median estimate of 13 economists in a Bloomberg survey was 6.5%. Prices rose 0.1% in the month.

Read: Cash-strapped consumers place pressure on food producers

Forward-rate agreements starting in a month — used to speculate on borrowing costs — show traders are still pricing in a more than 50% chance of the monetary policy committee increasing the repurchase rate by 25 basis points when it gives its next decision on July 20.

The panel has raised rates at 10 successive meetings with the aim of bringing inflation back to the 4.5% midpoint of the South African Reserve Bank’s target range, where it prefers to anchor expectations. The key interest rate stands at 8.25%, the highest level in 14 years.

“Inflation is now within sight of the upper end of the inflation target, and will see a further slowing,” Razia Khan, Standard Chartered Bank’s chief economist for Africa and the Middle East, said in an emailed note. “No further Sarb hikes appear to be required in this cycle.”

Read: SA’s GDP growth to expand 0.3% in 2023 – poll

The MPC raised the repurchase rate by 50 basis points last month. While Governor Lesetja Kganyago said monetary policy had become restrictive, the panel wouldn’t ease borrowing costs “until the inflation trajectory changes and inflation moves toward the midpoint of the inflation target range on a forward-looking basis.”

The rand was 0.3% stronger at R18.32 per dollar at 10:37 a.m. in Johannesburg, while yields on 2026 government bonds dropped 11 basis points to 9.44%.

Core price growth, which excludes the cost of food, non-alcoholic drinks, fuel and electricity, cooled to 5.2% in May from 5.3% the month before.


© 2023 Bloomberg

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