Consumers faced a 2.4 percent increase in prices in February in comparison to January, bringing the overall inflation rate so far this year to 4.2 percent.
According to the INDEC statistics bureau, about half of the inflation last month was explained by price increases in food, non-alcoholic drinks (2.2 percent compared to January), housing, and utilities such as water, natural gas and electricity (3.8 percent). Increases in transportation, as expected, were also significant, coming in at 4.5 percent.
The government has targeted an inflation rate of 15 percent for 2018, and it has predicted that the monthly rate will start to come down soon. The 2.4 percent recorded for February 2018 was in line with market expectations but still high given the government’s targets.
Compared to February 2017, prices on average have increased 25.4 percent. Reflecting utility price hikes, the cost of housing and utilities in the last 12 months increased by 52.5 percent, far higher than the average prices in general. Communications increased by 39 percent in the last 12 months wheres clothing and shoes increased the least, clocking in at 16.4 percent.
In terms of the underlying increases in prices, core inflation for February 2018 compared to January 2018 was 2.1 percent, whereas regulated prices increased 4.8 percent. Prices with seasonal changes were down 0.7 percent. In January, regulated prices increased by 2.1 percent, core inflation clocked in at 1.5 percent and prices with seasonal changes were up by 2.7 percent on average across the country.
The 4.2 percent inflation rate so far in 2018 is actually an average based on the various rates observed in the provinces. The rate for Buenos Aires City and the Greater Buenos Area, by far the most populous area in the country, was 4.2 percent, which was matched by the rate in Cuyo.
The highest overall rate was in Patagonia (4.7 percent), with the lowest in the Northwest (4.0 percent), with the other regions (Pampas – 4.3 percent, Northeast – 4.0 percent) making up the rest of the numbers.