August 10, 2012 / 7:56 PM / in 6 years

UPDATE 1-Argentina says July inflation quickens to 0.8 percent

* Government inflation data discredited since 2007

* Latin America’s No. 3 economy is quickly losing steam

BUENOS AIRES, Aug 10 (Reuters) - Argentina on Friday reported July consumer inflation of 0.8 percent, inching up from June’s official rate but falling far below the 1.8 percent increase estimated by private economists in a Reuters poll.

The government’s inflation figures have been discredited since 2007 as too low to reflect true price growth. Private estimates tend to double or even triple the official number.

Latin America’s No. 3 economy is quickly losing steam after growing at China-like rates for most of the last nine years, but high price rises are entrenched and annual inflation expectations hold at 30 percent, private data shows.

The INDEC statistics agency said 12-month inflation through July was 9.9 percent, unchanged from a month earlier but far below the 20 percent to 25 percent rate estimated by independent economists.

Analysts say strong state spending, loose monetary policy and big wage hikes mean inflation is unlikely to ease much.

INDEC said the biggest price gain in July was seen in the “other goods and services” category, which jumped 3.9 percent. The category includes products such as shampoo, diapers and hair dye as well as notary, burial and barbershop services.

Leisure costs rose 1.7 percent, while household goods were up 1.1 percent.

Costs in the heavily weighted food-and-drink sector climbed 0.6 percent last month, compared with 0.9 percent in June, when overall inflation was reported at 0.7 percent.

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