Taiwan Inflation Unexpectedly Quickened in December on Transport

Taiwan’s inflation unexpectedly accelerated in December, even as the government said it will check price gains as it tries to bolster economic growth.

Consumer prices rose 1.61 percent from a year earlier, after climbing a previously reported 1.59 percent in November, the statistics bureau said in Taipei today. The median of 12 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey was 1.38 percent.

The central bank refrained from raising interest rates last year to manage price gains as it tries to support the economy amid a global slowdown. Taiwan aims to keep inflation at below 2 percent in 2013 while boosting growth to 3.8 percent from around 1 percent currently, Premier Sean Chen said last month.

“The downward trend in inflation numbers is gradually coming to a halt,” Ma Tieying, a Singapore-based economist at DBS Group Holdings Ltd., said before the report. “That said, a rebound in inflation is unlikely to take place soon, given the lingering weakness in domestic demand.”

The Taiwan dollar gained more than 4 percent last year against its U.S. counterpart, the fourth-best performer among 11 most-traded Asian currencies tracked by Bloomberg News.

Food prices climbed 1.87 percent last month from a year earlier, today’s report showed, compared with a 2.28 percent pace in November. Transportation gained 2.23 percent and medical care advanced 1.6 percent.

Core consumer prices, a category excluding vegetables, fruits, fish and energy, advanced 1.09 percent. Wholesale prices, which track the cost of goods sold to retailers and producers, fell 3.96 percent.