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Sep 12, 2007 13:29 EEST
(adds details, background) </p>SOFIA
September 12 (SeeNews) - Bulgaria's consumer prices rose by a preliminary 3.1% month-on-month in August, after rising by 2.2% in July, the National Statistics Institute (NSI) said on Wednesday.
Year-on-year, consumer price inflation quickened to 12% in August from 8.4% in July, the NSI said.
Food prices rose 7.3% month-on-month in August after increasing by 3.9% in July. In August, flour prices were 14% higher and the price of bread went up 12.4%. Prices of milk and cheese also increased significantly on the month, by 6.8% and 19.8% respectively, while the price of eggs rose 27.2% on the month.
Grain prices have surged as a snowless winter followed by unusually dry spring weather damaged grain plantations in Bulgaria, as well as in most of southeast Europe this year.
The prices of non-food products remained flat in August on a monthly basis as they were in July. Solid fuel prices rose by a monthly 1.4%, while house rent rates accelerated by 1.5%. Fuel prices fell by 2.8%.
Bulgaria ended 2006 with an annual consumer price inflation of 6.5%, mainly driven by a rise in non-food prices.
Bulgaria's EU-harmonised annual consumer price inflation was 9.3% in August, up from 6.8% in July. The EU-harmonised monthly consumer price index rose by 2.2% in August after it rose by 1.7% in July.
The country, which joined the European Union in January, hopes to enter the EU's Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM-2), the euro's two-year waiting room, later this year, and high inflation is seen as its key challenge to joining the eurozone. The inflation in a eurozone-acceding state should not be higher than the average of the three lowest rates of inflation in the EU plus 1.5 points.
The government in Sofia expects inflation to slow down to 3.4% this year, while the central bank forecasts inflation at 3.7%. The IMF has projected an end-year inflation of 4.4%. Bulgaria ended 2006 with an annual consumer price inflation of 6.5%, which was mainly driven by a rise in non-food prices.
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