Consumer inflation edged up to 5,9% in February, just under the SARB target ceiling of 6%, from the 5,8% recorded in January. The monthly increase was 1,1%. There were three main groups contributing to the upward pressure this month – food, petrol and health insurance. Food and non-alcoholic beverages inflation increased to 5,4%, from 3,5% a mere two months ago. Bread and cereal products increased by 1,8% month on month (m/m) on average with ‘starring’ roles from super maize meal (4,0% m/m) and white bread (2,6% m/m). Sunflower oil increased by 1,1% between January and February.
The petrol price increased by 39c/l in February resulting in a 2,9% monthly increase in the petrol index. This takes annual petrol inflation to 14,0% for the past 12 months. This flows from the 20,4% increase in the oil price and a 23,7% depreciation in the Rand over this 12 month period.
Health insurance (medical aid) fees are surveyed in February. They carry a weight of 7,9% in the basket and registered an average increase of 8,3%. While being above average inflation, the increase was softer than the 9,9% increase registered in 2013. In contrast, medical services (doctors, hospitals etc.) – which are also surveyed in February – recorded a more modest annual increase of 6,1%. Medical products have a low inflation rate of 3,6%.