Mexico’s inflation accelerated for the first time in months in late September, putting pressure on policymakers to keep defying the regional trend of easing interest rates as they face a tricky path ahead.
(Bloomberg) — Mexico’s inflation accelerated for the first time in months in late September, putting pressure on policymakers to keep defying the regional trend of easing interest rates as they face a tricky path ahead.
Consumer prices rose 4.47% in the last two weeks of the month compared to the prior year, up from 4.44% in early September, the national statistics institute reported Monday. The result was slightly below the 4.5% median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Bi-weekly inflation hadn’t accelerated since the end of April and was last stagnant in late July.
Although headline inflation eased overall in September to 4.45% from 4.64% in August, the slowdown took place early in the month and reversed slightly in the last two weeks. School costs often contribute to inflation pressures at this time of year as students return from vacation, while fuel prices were also high at the end of last month.
The bank, known as Banxico, could have a tricky few months ahead, as economists polled by Citibanamex last week see inflation ending the year at 4.7%, above its current reading. Winter fuel tariffs are likely to pressure prices in the coming months, as would the peso if it continues weakening as seen in recent weeks, said Gabriela Siller, director of economic analysis at Grupo Financiero Base.
“Everyone is expecting Banco de México not to hike interest rates again, but I think there’s a possibility of one more hike before the end of the year, which would give a final downward tug to inflation,” Siller said, noting that the government’s plan for a large budget deficit in 2024 will likely nudge prices upward next year.
Core inflation, which excludes volatile items such as fuel and food, was 5.74%, compared to the 5.78% seen a year earlier.
Services inflation led the monthly print, at 5.23% compared to last year.
“The fresh rise in services inflation will reinforce Banxico’s concerns about the persistence of inflation,” Capital Economics wrote in a note. “This only reinforces our view that an easing cycle will not begin until early next year and that rates will come down slower than the consensus anticipates.”
Mexico’s central bank held rates at a record high of 11.25% for its fourth straight meeting last month and increased its inflation forecasts, leading economists to think there will be no cuts on the immediate horizon. The board repeated a reference to the need to maintain borrowing costs at their “current level for an extended period” in its statement accompanying the decision.
Read more: Banxico Holds Rate, Sees More Inflation With No Cuts on Horizon
Banxico targets inflation at 3%, plus or minus one percentage point.
The performance of the Mexican economy has contributed to the bank’s desire to take a wait-and-see approach instead of cutting rates. Latin America’s second-biggest economy outpaced expectations this year as the US, its largest trade partner, has so far avoided falling into recession as many analysts had expected.
(Updates with analyst quote and services data from seventh paragraph. Earlier version corrected second paragraph to show forecast was 4.5% and inflation was below estimate.)
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