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Bulgaria March inflation rises to 14.2% y/y

Bulgaria’s annual inflation quickened to 14.2% in March from 13.2% in February, mainly driven by high food prices, statistics office data showed on Monday.

The consumer prices acceleration slowed to 0.8% on a monthly basis in March from 1.1% in February, the office said in a statement. The IMF sees inflation easing to 7.0% at the end of the year on hopes that grain crops will increase from last year’s drought-hit levels, avoiding renewed food price hikes. High food prices and strong domestic demand drove inflation to 12.5% at the end of 2007, one of the highest rates in the European Union. The government said the surge in last year’s consumer prices was a one-off due to poor crops and forecast inflation will slow to 4.5% at year-end, despite expected increases in energy prices. Bulgaria is a net oil and gas importer.

Food prices rose 1.0% in March on the month due to increases in prices of fruit, vegetables and poultry meat. Prices of non-food items were up 0.8% in March and prices of services rose 0.4% on the month. Under the EU-harmonized consumer price index, inflation was up 13.2% on an annual basis in March and 0.9% on a monthly basis, the data showed. (Reuters)