April 23, 2018 / 5:25 AM / a year ago

UAE inflation continues easing in March after tax boost

    DUBAI, April 23 (Reuters) - Consumer price inflation in the
United Arab Emirates continued to ease in March after hitting a
multi-year high in January when the government imposed a 5
percent value-added tax, official data showed on Monday.
    Annual inflation dropped to 3.4 percent last month from 4.5
percent in February and 4.8 percent in January, which was the
highest since 2015. Month-on-month, consumer prices fell 0.7
percent in March.
    Some companies have been discounting to maintain market
share after initially hiking prices more sharply in response to
the tax. 
    For example, food and soft drink prices rose 4.9 percent
year-on-year in March, slowing from a jump of 6.5 percent in
February, and fell 1.7 percent from the previous month. Several
other categories, including furniture and household goods, also
dropped month-on-month.
    In addition, housing and utility prices, which account for
more than a third of the entire consumer basket, sank 1.2
percent year-on-year in March because of a weak real estate
market in the UAE, which is pushing down residential rents in
Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

 (Reporting by Andrew Torchia; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)
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