Food inflation up at 11.49%; PM says inflation to ease to 7%

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New Delhi, Feb 24 (PTI) After declining for two weeksfood inflation inched up to 11.49 per cent even as PrimeMinister Manmohan Singh exuded confidence that price rise willmoderate and overall inflation will decline to 7 per cent bythe end of next month.

Food prices moved upwards on account of rise in prices ofegg, meat, fish, milk and vegetables, according to theWholesale Price Index (WPI) data for the week ended February12 released today.

The food inflation had dropped to 11.05 per cent in thefirst week of February from 13.07 in the previous week, whichwas also a decline from the numbers for week ended January 22.

Terming high food inflation as a matter of concern, thePrime Minister in Lok Sabha said the situation has improvedand expected the situation to improve further.

"I will be the first one to admit that inflation in thelast 18 months has become a problem. There were reasons beyondour control. First of all, there was the drought of 2009 andthere were natural calamities which affected the production ofimportant products such as vegetables and onions," he said.

Singh, however, exuded confidence that the overallinflation will come down to seven per cent by March-end on theback of steps being taken by the government.

The Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek SinghAhluwalia has also said food inflation will come down tosingle digit by March end.

On the rising prices of cereals, Singh said India hassufficient accumulated stock of the commodity.

As per the WPI data, there was an uptick in the pricesof cereals and rice during the week ended February 12.

Inflation in cereals was 2.07 per cent and rice stood at1.65 per cent on an annual basis.

At the same time, prices of eggs, meat and fish roseby 14.79 per cent while milk was dearer by 16.99 per cent.

Vegetable prices continued to pinch the pocket of commonman as it rose by 15.89 per cent in the week under review,despite a 9.72 per cent decline in potato prices.

During the week, prices of milk rose by 5 per cent,mutton 2 per cent and barley 1 per cent. Among fuel items,furnace oil and naphtha grew by 2 per cent each.

"I think this is not a trend. Going ahead, food inflationwill come down," said Crisil Chief Economist D K Joshi.

Currently, fuel and fibre prices are witnessing a hightrend, Joshi said.

Fuel prices can see further rise in the coming weeksas crude oil prices are hardening due to political crisis inthe Middle-East, experts said.

Crude oil prices hit a two-year high of USD 99.10 perbarrel at the New York Mercantile Exchange.

As per the data, inflation in primary articles was 15.77per cent and non-food articles 31.58 per cent for the weekended February 12.

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