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Headline inflation and adjusted CORE2 inflation (%)
Monthly inflation rate came in at 1.3% in January, well above our expectations and market consensus (both at 0.8%). As a result, annual inflation quickened to a one-and- a-half-year high of 6%. Adjusted CORE2 inflation, closely monitored by the NBR, which excludes volatile prices, administered prices, tobacco and alcohol decreased marginally to 3.2% y/y.
Non-food prices went up by 2% m/m following strong increases in administered electricity price (+10.4% m/m), tobacco (+3.6%) and fuel (+0.5%). The calculation of excises for energy, tobacco and alcohol using a weaker EURRON FX rate and a gradual increase in electricity price due to a support scheme for green energy were main reasons behind this jump in consumer prices in January. Negative effects of severe summer drought in 2012 in agriculture still persist and food price increased by 1.2% m/m. Services were cheaper as compared to the previous month (-0.1%) following the appreciation of the RON.
We see risks to our inflation forecast of 4.1% in December 2013 and acknowledge that limited second round effects of higher energy price and a good agricultural year are very important for a disinflation trend in 2H13. Todays data does not alter our scenario regarding a gradual increase in liquidity provided by the NBR to banks at its weekly repo auctions. 3M ROBOR could stay thus at 5.5% in December 2013, while NBRs first move could be a 25bp cut in the key rate in 1Q14.
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