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Egypt's August Inflation Rate Falls to 7.5% Y/Y, Lowest in Years

Egypt's August Inflation Rate Falls to 7.5% Y/Y, Lowest in Years

Tuesday, 10 September, 2019 - 09:15
A general view of banks, hotels, office and residential buildings in the center of Cairo, Egypt, September 13, 2018. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Egypt’s annual urban consumer-price inflation rate declined to 7.5 percent in August from 8.7 percent in July, the lowest rate in years, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAMPAS).

The inflation rate was lower than some analysts expected. They said it opened the way for further rate cuts by the central bank.

Prices rose 0.7 percent on the month compared with 1.8 percent in July.

Egypt is approaching the end of an economic reform program backed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that during 2017 saw inflation rise to a high of 33 percent.

Core inflation, which strips out volatile items such as food, also declined to 4.9 percent in August from 5.9 percent in July, the central bank said on Tuesday.

According to Refinitiv data, August’s headline rate was the lowest in more than six years.

“[August’s rate] falls well below the nine percent target the Egyptian Central Bank had set itself for the end of 2020. This paves the way for another large rate cut on Sept. 26,” Jaap Meijer, head of equity research at Arqaam Capital, told Reuters.

The central bank cut rates by 150 basis points at its last monetary policy committee meeting, on Aug. 22, encouraged by the declining inflation rate.

Radwa El-Swaify, head of research at Pharos Securities Brokerage, said the August number is “positive and gives positive signs for interest rates in the next meeting. We expect a cut of 1-1.5 percent.”

Egypt raised domestic fuel prices in July 2019 as part of the terms of the IMF agreement, and the increase had been expected to push up prices for transport, food products and other goods.

Nadene Johnson, an economist at NKC African Economics, said the August inflation number resulted partly from a favorable base effect from a year earlier.

In August 2018, Egypt’s headline inflation rate was 14.2 percent after subsidies were cut.

She also said a strengthening currency as well as low global oil prices “would support further easing of price pressures.”

“Nonetheless, with energy reforms complete, and with global oil prices on the bearish side, we expect inflation to ease gradually in the coming year, albeit slightly higher toward the end of this year,” Johnson explained.

Egypt had seen consumer prices surge by over 30 percent after the November 2016 decision to devalue the currency as a first step in a sweeping economic program that helped secure a $12 billion International Monetary Fund loan.

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