Consumer prices in South Africa fell during the month of August, below the upper end of the central bank’s target band, for the first time in 2016, restricting a rate hike in the near-term.
The rate of inflation fell to 5.9 percent from 6 percent a month earlier, data released by Statistics South Africa showed Wednesday in the capital, Pretoria. That was in line with the median of 24 economist estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Prices fell 0.1 percent in the month.
Inflation has been trending lower since peaking at 7 percent in February, partly helped by a stronger rand which is up about 12 percent against the dollar so far this year after losing a quarter of its value in 2015. Core inflation, which excludes food, non-alcoholic beverages, energy and gasoline remained unchanged at 5.7 percent, in line with the median estimate of 12 economists in a Bloomberg survey.
“While the SARB will certainly not lower interest rates this year, a moderation in inflation forecasts could result in a longer pause in its monetary policy tightening cycle,” Reuters reported, citing Christie Viljoen, Senior Economist, KPMG.
The central bank of South Africa has hiked the benchmark repo rate by a cumulative 200 basis points since the start of 2014 but left it unchanged at 7 percent at its May and July policy meetings. Meanwhile, the rand held firm against the greenback after the CPI data, helped by strong appetite for high-yielding emerging market assets as investors expect the Federal Reserve to keep U.S. interest rates low for longer this year.