Mexico consumer prices rise most since march amid rate reduction

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

(c) 2013, Bloomberg News.

MEXICO CITY — Mexican consumer prices rose in October by the most in seven months as energy costs increased and the central bank cut interest rates.

Prices climbed 0.48 percent from a month earlier, compared with the 0.46 percent median forecast of 20 economists in a Bloomberg survey. Annual inflation slowed to 3.36 percent, the least since January, from 3.39 percent in September.

The central bank Wednesday raised its forecast for inflation next year to 3.5 percent, a week after Governor Agustin Carstens said policymakers shouldn't reduce interest rates from the current record low because tax increases will add to pressure on prices in the short term. The central bank's board cut the benchmark interest rate a quarter percentage point to 3.5 percent on Oct. 25 and signaled that the move will be the last reduction in borrowing costs.

"Taking into consideration the impact of the fiscal reform, a rate below 3.5 percent at this time, is not necessary, adequate for the convergence" of inflation to the central bank's 3 percent target, Carstens said in an Oct. 30 interview.

Congress last week approved an 8 percent levy on junk food, a 1 peso-per-liter duty on sugary drinks, and raised sales taxes at the border to 16 percent from 11 percent.

While the central bank Wednesday cut its growth forecast for this year to between 0.9 percent and 1.4 percent from 2 percent to 3 percent, it raised the inflation estimate for next year to 3.5 percent from near 3 percent, citing the tax increases.

Retail sales and industrial production unexpectedly fell in August from the year earlier, adding to signs that economic weakness from the first half of the year continued in the third quarter.

"The risks to the downside for growth in the Mexican economy, while they are less than in the most recent months, remain elevated," the central bank said in yesterday's quarterly inflation report.

Energy costs increased 4.3 percent in October from the previous month and fruits and vegetables rose 0.3 percent, while prices for livestock fell 1.3 percent.