Venezuela monthly inflation slowed to 7.1% in September -central bank

CARACAS, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Venezuela’s inflation slowed to 7.1% in September compared to the previous month when it closed at 19.8%, the country’s central bank said on Saturday, following a three-month delay in publishing inflation figures.

September’s rise in consumer prices takes Venezuela’s annual inflation to 1,945.9%, according to calculations by Reuters based on data released by the country’s monetary policy authority, hitting citizens’ earnings and exacerbating poverty.

Inflation slowed in September as the exchange rate with the U.S. dollar stabilized, the Venezuelan finance observatory said in its monthly report published this week.

Venezuela, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), is in the grips of an economic crisis and four years of hyperinflation, leading to rising use of foreign currency for routine purchases in supermarkets and pharmacies.

The government of President Nicolas Maduro, which blames the economic difficulties on U.S. sanctions, has relaxed rules and signaled that transactions performed with foreign currency are “an escape valve.”

Critics argue that rising prices in Venezuela are due to the government printing more money to cover its budget deficit.

Inflation over the last nine months stands at 531.2%, according to official figures.

The largest inflationary growth was seen in education, which rose 13.5%, and home supplies, which increased 11.6%, according to figures published by the central bank. (Reporting by Mayela Armas Writing by Oliver Griffin Editing by Vivian Sequera and Chris Reese)