Malaysia Inflation Likely Picked Up to 4.2% in September -- Poll

By Yantoultra Ngui Features Dow Jones Newswires

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia--Malaysia's inflation likely accelerated for a second month in September due to higher costs for transport and food.

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The consumer-price index, the country's main inflation gauge, is expected to have risen 4.2% in September from a year earlier, according to the median forecast from a Wall Street Journal poll of 10 economists. The CPI rose 3.7% in August from the previous year -- the first acceleration in five months.

"We believe the rise in fuel prices were the main factor amidst elevated levels of food prices and other essential items," Mohd Afzanizam Abdul Rashid, chief economist at Bank Islam Malaysia, told The Wall Street Journal.

He said inflation was currently considered high by historical standards. Average inflation between 1990 and 2016 was around 2.8%.

Issues surrounding the cost of living are thus expected take the center stage during the presentation of Malaysia's 2018 national budget on Oct. 27, according to Mr. Mohd Afzanizam.

"Perhaps more efforts needs to be directed to curb malpractices among the businesses such as profiteering and hoarding that could contribute to the rise in the cost of living," he added.

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Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak will present the budget, which is expected to include an increase in cash handouts and infrastructure spending ahead of elections expected by the middle of next year.

The government was also likely to revise its official economic forecasts for 2017 on the day of the budget presentation to reflect better-than-expected exports and domestic demand so far this year.

In August, the country's central bank said that headline inflation, which softened to 4% in the second quarter from 4.3% the preceding quarter, is expected to ease further in the second half of the year assuming lower global oil prices.

The official September inflation data is due Friday at 0400 GMT.

Write to Yantoultra Ngui at yantoultra.ngui@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 18, 2017 23:05 ET (03:05 GMT)