Year-on-year, downward prices pressure came from: housing & utilities (-4.2 percent in March from -4.1 percent in February, largely due to a 10.6 percent drop in fuel & utilities and a 3.2 percent fall in accommodation) and household durables & services (-0.3 percent from -0.6 percent, mainly due to a 0.7 percent decline in household services & supplies). Cost also dropped for transport (-4.3 percent from -2.9 percent, due to a 5.9 percent decline in private road transport and a 2.8 percent fall in other travel & transport) and communication (-1.8 percent from -0.9 percent). In contrast, upward prices pressures came from: clothing & footwear (+1.3 percent from +2.5 percent) and health care (+0.7 percent from +0.7 percent, mainly due to a 1.0 percent rise in medical & dental treatment). Prices also increased for recreation & culture (+0.4 percent from +0.1 percent, mainly due to a 6.0 percent increase in newspapers, book & stationery and a 0.2 percent rise in holiday expenses), education (+2.4 percent from +2.4 percent) and miscellaneous goods & services (+0.6 percent from +0.5 percent, mainly due to a 2.8 percent rise in personal effects, 0.2 percent growth in other miscellaneous expenditure and a 0.5 percent rise in personal care).
Prices of food rose 2.2 percent in March, up from a 2.0 percent rise in a month earlier. Among food, cost of food excluding food servicing services increased by 2.3 percent, following a 1.5 percent rise in the preceding month while food servicing services rose 2.2 percent, after a 2.2 percent rise in February. Among food excluding food servicing services, cost increased for most of components. Prices of bread & cereals rose 1.2 percent; meat (+2.2 percent); fish & seafood (+2.8 percent); fruits (+1.7 percent); milk, cheese & eggs (+2.3 percent), vegetables (+4.2 percent); sugar, preserves & confectionery (+3.0 percent), non-alcoholic beverages (+1.6 percent) and other food (+2.3 percent). Prices remained unchanged for oils & fats. Among food servicing services, prices increased for all categories: restaurant foods (+3.2 percent), fast food (+1.5 percent), hawker food including food courts (+1.7 percent) and catered food (+0.1 percent).
Core inflation, which excludes costs of accommodation and private road transport, rose 0.6 percent year-on-year from 0.5 percent in February and in line with market estimates. It is the highest figure since September 2015.
On a month-on-month basis, consumer prices remained unchanged in March, after declining 0.1 percent in February.