Economists are braced for an interest rate hike at this week’s monetary policy committee (MPC) meeting, but the decision is likely to be a close call given the fragile state of the economy. The two main economic events this week will be the release of the consumer price index (CPI) for October on Wednesday, followed by the Reserve Bank’s interest-rate decision on Thursday. Second-tier data, including tourism, accommodation, land transport, and food and beverage sales figures, all for September, will be released by Stats SA on Monday. Economists anticipate an uptick in the October CPI to at least 5.1% from 4.9% in September, mainly on account of rising fuel prices. In October, petrol and diesel prices rose 100c/l and 124c/l respectively. Food price pressures are expected to add to the CPI outcome given seasonal effects. Maize prices are up about 20% year on year. Citibank economist Gina Schoeman expects a hefty rise in the October CPI to 5.3%, but because a sizable petrol-price cut i...

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