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Ghana's annual inflation dipped to 9.4 percent in September from 9.5 percent a month before as the harvest got underway and moderated food prices, the statistical office said on Wednesday.

A stable economic outlook in the West African oil, cocoa, and gold producer nation has led analysts to predict the central bank will hold its prime interest rate steady at 15 percent until at least the end of the year.

Acting government statistician Philomena Nyarko said lower prices for local staples linked to harvesting accounted for the marginal decline in September. She said general price levels slipped by 1.5 percent month-to-month and projected the trend was likely to continue.

"We can say that we will have a lower month-on-month inflation next month due to the impact of the harvest season," Nyarko said.

The data showed food inflation stood at 4.4 percent last month while non-food inflation was 12.4 percent, driven mainly by transport costs.

Inflation rose throughout much of the year as Ghana's cedi currency plunged versus the dollar in the first half of 2012 but steadied in August as the local currency began to rebound.

"This first softening of inflation since February likely reflects the almost 2 percent appreciation of the cedi against the dollar in September," said Yvonne Mhango of Renaissance Capital. "We think this implies the policy rate is likely to remain flat at 15 percent until year-end 2012."

Ghana's rate-setting committee kept its prime rate unchanged in September, citing a balanced inflation and growth outlook.

Nii Ampa-Sowah of Accra-based Databank Group said that while the marginal fall in inflation had been expected, seasonal price pressures would pick up towards year-end.

"In our view pricing pressures will pick up as corporate demand for hard currency increases, along with the likely rise in food prices which is typical in the last quarter of the year," he said.

Source: Reuters


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