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Kenyan Inflation Slows First Time This Year, Rate Cut Expected

March 28 (Bloomberg) -- Kenyan inflation slowed for the first time this year, widening scope for more monetary easing.

The inflation rate declined to 4.1 percent in March from 4.5 percent in February, the Nairobi-based Kenya National Bureau of Statistics said in an e-mailed statement. Prices in the month rose 1.01 percent, the agency said.

“There is room for more cuts to help the economy to grow,” Ignatius Chicha, head of markets at Citigroup Inc. in Nairobi, said by phone before the figures were released.

The central bank left the benchmark interest rate unchanged at 9.5 percent on March 12 after four reductions, citing risks including higher oil prices, a weak global economic outlook and a large current account deficit.

Kenya’s bid to boost its sluggish economy and slowing inflation gives the bank to room to resume cutting interest rates. The Kenya Private Sector Alliance said East Africa’s largest economy had been affected by political uncertainty surrounding the March 4 presidential election.

A petition to nullify the presidential victory of Uhuru Kenyatta and order a new vote is now being heard in the Supreme Court and a verdict is expected by March 30.

The bank says keeping to the government’s 5 percent inflation target in the medium term is a top priority. The next meeting is due in May.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah McGregor in Nairobi at smcgregor5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net

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