April 20, 2012 / 1:12 PM / in 6 years

Morocco's inflation eases again in March

RABAT, April 20 (Reuters) - Morocco’s consumer price inflation fell for the second straight month to an annual 0.3 percent rate in March versus 0.4 percent in February, with lower communication costs offsetting higher food prices, official data showed on Friday.

Food prices - some 40 percent of the consumer price index’s total weighting - rose 0.8 percent in March compared with a year ago, versus a 0.4 percent rise in February, the High Planning Authority said.

Communication costs fell by close to 20 percent in the 12 months to end-March, while they were down by 12.6 percent at end-February, it said.

Underlying inflation, a gauge used by Morocco’s central bank to set the benchmark interest rate, rose 0.5 percent in March compared to a year earlier, the authority said.

On a monthly basis, inflation fell 0.2 percent from February after food prices rose 0.1 percent.

Inflation, which stood at 0.9 percent in 2011, is projected to rise to as much as 2.5 percent in 2012, the government said.

The state spent the equivalent of 6 percent of the $97-billion Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2011 on subsidising staples, mostly wheat and sugar, as well as energy products, to hold down inflation. (Reporting By Souhail Karam; editing by Ron Askew)

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