Nigeria’s consumer inflation eased to 11.9 percent in February from a year earlier, compared with 12.6 percent in January, as the removal of fuel subsidies had a more muted impact on prices than analysts expected Reuters reports.
The government scrapped subsidies on petrol imports on Jan. 1 but was forced to partially reinstate them to quell protests over the costs of petrol. Fuel prices fell but stayed higher than they had been before the subsidy was removed.
The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said in January he expected inflation to pick up to around 14-15 percent in the first half of this year, before moderating towards single digits by the end of 2013.
“This will come as a huge surprise to the market and no doubt lead to much focus as to what was behind the outcome,” said Razia Khan, Head of Africa Research at Standard Chartered.
“The increase in fuel prices no doubt had a contractionary impact on real disposable income. In some sectors, a slowdown in momentum had been evident for some time, so pricing power – the key ingredient needed to see a translation into any meaningful secondary impact – was largely missing,” Khan added.
Food inflation, the largest component in the headline figure, eased to 12.9 percent year-on-year in February, compared with 13.1 percent in January, the data released by the National Bureau of Statistics revealed.
The CBN will meet to review policy on Tuesday. The unexpected easing in inflation in February strengthens analysts’ views that the benchmark interest rate will be kept on hold at 12 percent.