Taipei, March 6 (CNA) Consumer prices for February fell 0.21 percent from a year earlier, largely in reflection of a relatively high comparison base over the same period of last year, when the last Lunar New Year holiday fell, the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said Friday.
The DGBAS said that due to the Lunar New Year holiday, babysitting costs, taxi fares and tourism spending rose in February 2019, pushing up the comparison base during the period, which brought consumer prices lower, the DGBAS said.
In addition, a scare over the spread of COVID-19 also dampened consumers' interest in spending, which dragged down consumer prices last month to some extent, the DGBAS added.
DGBAS data showed that the consumer price index (CPI) for February fell 0.21 percent from a year earlier, while on a month-on-month basis, the CPI also fell 1.08 percent from January, when this year's Lunar New Year holiday fell.
After seasonal adjustments, the February CPI also fell 0.19 percent from a month earlier, according to the data.
It was the first year-on-year fall in the CPI since December 2018, when the figure was down 0.06 percent, the DGBAS said.
The core CPI, which excludes vegetables, fruit and energy, was also down 0.38 percent from a year earlier, the data showed.
The DGBAS said the fall in the February CPI was seasonal in nature, so it was not necessary to worry about any deflation.
In the first two months of this year, Taiwan's CPI rose 0.81 percent from a year earlier, with the core CPI up 0.48 percent, so the DGBAS said the figure for the two months as a whole showed that local consumer prices continued to grow in a stable manner.
In February, transportation and communications costs fell 2.29 percent from a year earlier, with communications rates and fuel prices down 5.31 percent and 4.18 percent, respectively, the DGBAS said.
In terms of miscellaneous items, the DGBAS said, prices fell 1.76 percent from a year earlier in February due to a fall in babysitting expenses and hairdressing costs in the month.
Education and entertainment costs also moved lower by 1.63 percent from a year earlier in February on the back of lower hotel and tourism expenses, the DGBAS added.
However, food prices bucked the downturn, up 1.76 percent from a year earlier on a relatively low comparison basis, with prices of fruit and vegetables down 7.85 percent and 6.91 percent, respectively, the DGBAS said.
While the COVID-19 scare affected the entire CPI, food delivery felt less of a pinch, so dining out costs in February rose 1.44 percent from a year earlier, the DGBAS said.
The cost of a basket of 17 government-monitored household necessities, including rice, pork, bread, eggs, sugar, cooking oil, shampoo and toilet paper, fell 0.70 percent in February from a year earlier, after a 1.09 percent drop in January, the DGBAS said.
The wholesale price index (WPI) declined 4.47 percent, largely reflecting a drop in the prices of chemical products, drugs, base metals, fuel and coal products, the DGBAS data showed.
The import price index dropped 4.67 percent in February from a year earlier in Taiwan dollar terms and fell 2.59 percent in U.S. dollar terms, the figures showed.
The export price index declined 5.04 percent in Taiwan dollar terms and dropped 2.97 percent in U.S. dollar terms, the data indicated.
During the January-February period, the WPI fell 3.89 percent year-on-year, the DGBAS data showed.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel