ABUJA â€” Nigeriaâ€™s inflation rate rose to 12.9 per cent in April, year-on-year, driven largely by non-food items and a very price stable comparative month in April last year, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed, yesterday.
Nigeria, Africaâ€™s top energy producer and second biggest economy, is closely watched by emerging market investors and Africa-focussed funds.
Though its economy is one of the fastest growing in the world and bond yields are attractive, poor fiscal management has had a tendency to build inflationary pressures. The figure compared with a 12.1 per cent increase in March, year-on-year.
Food inflation, the largest component of the index, fell slightly to 11.2 per cent, compared with 11.8 percent in March. The change in the overall index was largely because inflation in the month of April 2011 had been so subdued.
â€śThe higher year-on-year change could be partly attributable to base effects as the index was relatively more stable in April of 2011 â€¦ lower price levels in April 2011 will reflect higher year-on-year percentage changes in April of 2012,â€ť the statistics bureau said.
Inflation was worse in urban areas last month, registering a 13.4 per cent rise, compared with 12.4 percent in rural areas. Core inflation, stripping out volatile agricultural produce, rose by much more than the headline rate, by 14.7 percent year on year, the statistics bureau sAnalysts expect the upward trend in inflation to peak later this year, before it tails off slightly.
â€śInflation will probably peak at 14.4 percent y/y in Jul-Aug, which is close to CBN and market expectations,â€ť said Standard Bankâ€™s Samir Gadio, adding that a sell off in bonds, whose yields are very inflation sensitive, was unlikely. Inflation is set to drop in Q4 2012 and reach high single-digits in early 2013, based on our forecasts,â€ť he said.
â€śThe central bank has warned that inflationary pressures are too strong; hinting that it is likely to keep monetary policy tight this year, but nobody expects a rise in rates at the next meeting. The bank held rates at 12 percent last month, and Governor Lamido Sanusi noted a â€śresurgence of inflationary pressuresâ€ť, though he praised the government for efforts to introduce fiscal discipline into its 2012 budget.
â€śGiven that inflation remains in the range projected by the CBN, we do not expect rates to be changed from 12 percent at the May MPC meeting,â€ť said Alan Cameron, a London based economist for Nigerian stockbroker CSL.
The CBN has said that it expects inflation to peak at 14-15 percent in Q3 2012 â€¦ inflation would need to move above this range in order for the CBN to reconsider its stance.â€ť