markets

Nigerian Inflation Slows for 13th Consecutive Month in February

  • Inflation stays above 6 percent to 9 percent target range
  • Nigeria policy rate at record high of 14% since July 2016
Photographer: Tom Saater/Bloomberg

Nigeria’s inflation slowed for a 13th consecutive month in February, but may still be too high for the central bank to start cutting rates from a record.

Consumer-price growth in Africa’s most populous nation decelerated to 14.3 percent from 15.1 percent in January, the Abuja-based National Bureau of Statistics said in an emailed statement. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey was 14.6 percent. Prices rose 0.8 percent in the month.

Governor Godwin Emefiele said last month the Central Bank of Nigeria may reduce its benchmark from a record-high 14 percent before July if inflation drops closer to single digits. Price growth has exceeded the target range of 6 to 9 percent for 2 1/2 years partly due to increasing fuel and food costs, as well as a weaker currency that raised prices of imported goods.

The cost of gasoline increased an average 15 percent to 172.5 naira ($0.48) in February from a year earlier, according to NBS, which collects data including pump prices that are above the government’s official cap of 145 naira per liter.

The Monetary Policy Committee is scheduled to meet March 19-20 if at all, having missed its January gathering because it had insufficient members to form a quorum. That’s because lawmakers refused to confirm new members amid a political stalemate with President Muhammadu Buhari.

The committee has kept the policy rate at 14 percent since July 2016 as it tries to balance fighting inflation, propping up the naira, and supporting an economy that the International Monetary Fund forecast will expand 2.1 percent this year, strengthening a recovery after contracting in 2016.

— With assistance by Simbarashe Gumbo

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