The country’s wholesale price inflation surged to 0.53% in March, according to the latest data released by the Ministry of Commerce. In contrast to this, the wholesale price inflation for January and February stood at 0.20% and 0.33%, respectively.

For primary articles, the wholesale inflation stood at 4.5% in March, as against 4.49% and 4.07% in February and January, respectively. For fuel and power, the wholesale inflation stood at -0.77% in March, as against -1.59% and -0.45% in February and January, respectively. The wholesale inflation for manufactured products stood at -0.85% in March, as against -1.27% and -1.20% in February and January this year.

Notably, the country’s wholesale price index in March stood at 151.8. The wholesale price index stood at 151.2 for February and January. 

For primary articles, the wholesale price index increased by 0.94% to 183.1 in March, as against 181.4 in February. The wholesale price index for fuel and power increased by 0.06% to 155.2 in March, as against 155.1 in February.

For manufactured products, the wholesale price index increased by 0.21% to 140.1 in March 2024 as against 139.8  for February.

“Some of the important groups that showed month-over-month increase in prices are food products; motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers; rubber and plastics products; other manufacturing; chemicals and chemical products etc. Some of the groups that witnessed a decrease in prices are fabricated metal products, except machinery and equipment; basic metals; pharmaceuticals, medicinal chemical and botanical products; textiles; wearing apparel etc. in March, 2024 as compared to February, 2024,” says the ministry.

As per the ministry, the food index consisting of 'Food Articles' from Primary Articles group and 'Food Product' from the manufactured products group has increased from 178.3 in February to 180.1 in March. The rate of inflation based on the WPI Food Index increased from 4.09% in February to 4.65% in March.

The development comes days after the retail (consumer price) inflation eased to a nine-month low of 4.85% in March, remaining within the central bank's tolerance band of 4-6%. The Consumer Price Index-based inflation in March is the lowest since June 2023 when it stood at 4.81%. In February, the inflation rate came in at 5.09%. On a sequential basis, urban inflation saw a significant decline from 4.78% in February to 4.14% in March. Rural inflation, however, rose by 11 basis points to 5.45%.

Inflation of vegetables surged to 28% while pulses saw a 17% rise in inflation rate.

Earlier this month, RBI governor Shaktikanta Das said inflation - the elephant in the room - has now gone out for a walk and appears to be returning to the forest. “Two years ago, around this time, when CPI inflation had peaked at 7.8% in April 2022, the elephant in the room was inflation. The elephant has now gone out for a walk and appears to be returning to the forest,” Das said while announcing the monetary policy statement.

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