Inflation In México Rises More Than Expected

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The increase has occurred since the first half of February.

Mexico's year-on-year inflation accelerated in the first half of February above market expectations, reinforcing expectations that the Bank of Mexico will continue to raise its key rate following the next steps of the U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed). The National Consumer Price Index (INPC) stood at 7.22 percent, after cooling slightly for four consecutive fortnights, according to figures released Thursday by the statistics institute. Analysts had projected it to grow to 7.17 percent from 7.01 percent in the second half of January. Meanwhile, core inflation, considered a better parameter to measure the trajectory of prices because it eliminates highly volatile products, registered a variation of 6.52 percent, at its highest level since July 2001, also exceeding expectations. The rise in inflation suggests that "the central bank is struggling in its battle to contain price pressures," said Nikhil Sanghani, emerging markets economist at Capital Economics.

Mexico's central bank, which has a permanent inflation target of 3 percent +/- one percentage point, raised its benchmark interbank rate by 50 basis points in early February, its sixth straight hike, citing longer duration and magnitude of inflationary pressures. Its next monetary policy decision is scheduled for March 24, a week after the Fed meeting when the market anticipates the U.S. central bank to begin raising interest rates after a long time at near-zero levels. In the first 15 days of February alone, prices rose 0.42 percent, while the underlying index showed a rate of 0.43 percent.

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