Shrugging off the depressive effect of demonetisation, India's Consumer Price Index (CPI), or retail inflation, during March rose month-on-month at 3.81 per cent, even as factory output in the country contracted by (-) 1.2 per cent in February, official data showed on Wednesday.
Factory gate inflation "has eased", NBS analyst Sheng Guoqing said in a statement, noting that March's figure fell back from a 7.8 per cent increase in February after five months of expansion.
The growth rate, nearly on par with market expectations, quickened from an increase of 0.8 percent in February.
More importantly, growth in average weekly earnings excluding bonuses slowed to 2.2% in the three month period compared to the same period a year ago, down from the 2.3% rate announced a month ago but higher than the 2.1% consensus forecast.
ONS deputy national statistician Jonathan Athow said: "Food, drink and clothing prices all rose in March".
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The NBS attributed the lower CPI reading to sharply lowering food prices, which fell 1.9 percent in March.
The Consumer Price Index measure of inflation stood at 2.3% in February and remained steady in figures for the following month, released on Tuesday. Vegetable prices dropped the most, by 7.9 percent from February.
He said over the next few months "rising inflationary pressures will increase the gradient on the economic growth treadmill".
Fuel pump prices were also dragging on CPI.
Sterling rose momentarily following the announcements before slipping back to a 0.1% drop against the U.S. dollar at 1.241, and a 0.1% fall versus the euro at 1.170.
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"For now the doves hold sway on the Bank's rate-setting committee, but with each month that inflation remains above target that stance will look less tenable".
Separate ONS figures published earlier this month revealed that household savings rates hit a record low as consumers plundered their nest eggs to keep spending despite rising inflation.
However, Samuel Tombs, chief United Kingdom economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: "Households are being caught in a ideal storm of rising inflation and slowing labour income growth". Prices of housing water, electricity, gas and other fuels rose by 2.5 per cent, while cost of transport inched up 8.9 per cent. "That will only happen if wages start to grow strongly as we try to bolster our spending power and/or our expectations of future inflation start to rise to levels inconsistent with the target".
Viktor Nossek, director of research at WisdomTree, said: "It is worth remembering that CPI in the United States is only just creeping up despite wages increasing in response to a stronger labour market".
United Kingdom living standards are under more pressure than at any time in 2 1/2 years and the squeeze is getting tighter.
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