Inflation up 0.9% in April

Meat and poultry prices rise 2.5%; vegetables rise 10.1%.

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The consumer price index rose 0.9 percent in April, led by higher prices for fresh produce, clothing and footwear and transportation the Central Bureau of Statistics said Monday. Meat and poultry prices rose 2.5%, fresh vegetable prices rose 10.1%, fresh fruit prices 5.2%, and vacationing prices rose 6.3%. April's inflation was primarily the result of seasonal factors such as pre-Independence Day preparations, as well as developments abroad - above all the rise in oil prices - argued Excellence Nessuah chief economist Shlomo Maoz, who pointed to rises in the prices of key holiday items. The seasonally adjusted inflation rate excluding fresh produce and housing rose by only 0.19 percentage points, Maoz stressed. "It's all seasonal. I don't see any inflationary pressures at the moment," he said. Leader & Co. analyst Jonathan Katz disagreed, noting that while housing prices sank beyond what April's movements in the shekel-dollar exchange rate had suggested, his core inflation index (excluding clothing, fresh produce, fuel and housing) actually rose by 0.7%. Significant price rises over the past few months, alongside Monday's "very bullish" first-quarter GDP growth figure and wage growth, "definitely" increase pressure on Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer to raise the interest rate at the end of the month, Katz said, noting that inflation has risen 3.8% over the past 12 months and has already hit 1.5% for the first third of the year. Economists said, if the shekel maintains its value or appreciates further, Fischer may be able to avoid raising interest rates again at the end of the month. "The only reason not to [raise rates] would be currency developments over the next two weeks," Katz said. "What the shekel does is crucial." Nonetheless, the shekel will not be the central bank's most important consideration, Katz predicted. "The Bank of Israel is targeting inflation, not currency."D.K.