India’s inflation based on the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) rose to a four-month high of 14.55 percent in March from 13.11 percent in February, according to data released by the commerce ministry on April 18.
The WPI inflation was 7.89 percent in March 2021. Another 10 percent-plus print means WPI inflation has now been in double-digit territory for 12 consecutive months.
The rise in wholesale inflation in March comes after data released on April 12 showed the more closely-tracked headline retail inflation rate based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) jumped to a 17-month high of 6.95 percent last month.
While the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) policy target is spelt out in terms of CPI inflation, high WPI inflation is seen as a precursor to higher consumer prices as producers pass on rising costs to customers.
The rise in WPI inflation in March was driven by an increase in prices across the board, although non-food items led the charge.
“The high rate of inflation in March, 2022 is primarily due to rise in prices of crude petroleum & natural gas, mineral oils, basic metals, etc owing to disruption in global supply chain caused by Russia-Ukraine conflict,” the commerce ministry said.
The index for the fuel and power group of the WPI jumped 5.68 percent month-on-month in March, while that for manufactured products rose 2.31 percent over the same period.
Manufactured products account for 64.23 percent of the WPI basket.
The food index, in comparison, rose by only 0.54 percent in March from February. However, the month-on-month increase in March is higher than the 0.06 percent posted in February.
|WPI INFLATION – KEY ITEMS|
|MARCH 2022||FEBRUARY 2022|
|Fuel and power||34.52%||31.50%|
Overall, the all-commodities index of the WPI was up 2.69 percent month-on-month as against 0.76 in February, indicating rising momentum in price pressures.
The impact of the war between Russia and Ukraine seems to be spilling into non-fuel prices, with the index for wheat rising 3.19 percent in March from February. As a result, wheat inflation increased to 14.04 percent from 11.03 percent in February.
Russia and Ukraine are major global exporters of wheat.
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