Malaysia Inflation at 8-Year High
Malaysia’s consumer price index rose to an over eight-year high in March, but economists widely expect the central bank will keep key policy interest rate steady to support a fragile recovery in economic activities, Nikkei reported. The consumer price index—Malaysia’s main gauge of inflation—rose 5.1% in March from a year earlier driven mostly by costlier fuel, official data Wednesday showed. That compares with a median 5.2% increase predicted in a Nikkei Markets poll and February’s 4.5% year-on-year gain. Inflation in March was driven by a low-base effect and higher retail fuel prices compared to a year earlier, according to a statement by the Malaysian statistics department, which measures monthly inflation. The March inflation rate is notably higher than the historical average of 3%, but it is unlikely to rattle Bank Negara Malaysia as global oil prices are expected to remain stable this year, according to UOB economist Julia Goh. Malaysia’s central bank said last month that inflation will likely average between 3 and 4% this year.