Farm and factory gate inflation, as measured by the annual change in the producer price index (PPI), decelerated slightly to 5.1% in January from 5.2% in December.This was similar to January’s consumer price index (CPI), which slowed to 4.4% — its lowest since March 2015 — from 4.7% in December 2017.Statistics SA reported on Wednesday that the food component of PPI accelerated slightly to 1.2% from December’s 1%, with wholesale meat prices moderating to 10% in January from the same month in 2017. In December, meat inflation was 12.6%.Electricity and water prices dropped to 3% from 3.3%.The Department of Energy currently estimates a further petrol price cut of 36c/litre for March.Investec economist Kamilla Kaplan said she had expected PPI to have remained at 5.2%. "In the months ahead, the rand will play a key role in stemming cost pressures from global commodity prices," she said.The Bloomberg consensus was 5.1% while macroeconomics website Trading Economics forecast 5%.

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