South Africa’s Inflation Rate Reduced to 4.4% in January

The South African Rand

South Africa’s inflation rate slowed in January, easing pressure on the Central Bank to maintain a tight monetary stance.

Inflation slowed to 4.4 percent from 4.7 percent in December, Pretoria-based Statistics South Africa said Wednesday in a report on its website. The median of 14 economists’ estimates in a Bloomberg survey was for 4.4 percent. Prices rose 0.3 percent in the month.

Price growth has been within the Reserve Bank’s target range of between 3 percent to 6 percent for 10 months, the longest run since 2015.

The Monetary Policy Committee left its benchmark lending rate unchanged for the third straight meeting last month as the risk of a credit-ratings downgrade persists.

“I think for at least two quarters it will remain around the midpoint, thereafter it may trend higher,” Elize Kruger, senior economist at NKC Economics, said by phone before the release of the data.

The good inflation numbers “will hopefully convince the Reserve Bank that there is scope for a bit of loosening.”

While the Central Bank has highlighted the Rand as a key risk to price growth, it expects inflation to remain within the target band.

South Africa’s currency was one of the most volatile tracked by Bloomberg last year and has gained 8.6 percent against the dollar since Cyril Ramaphosa was elected to lead the ruling African National Congress in December. Ramaphosa has since replaced Jacob Zuma as president of the country.

Core inflation, which excludes the prices of food, non-alcoholic beverages, energy and gasoline, slowed to 4.1 percent in January, from 4.2 percent.

Amaka E. Nliam