June 9, 2012 / 1:06 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Saudi Arabia's May inflation eases to 5.1 pct

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia, June 9 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's
annual inflation eased to a nine-month low of 5.1 percent in
May, despite a slight rise in food and housing prices, official
data showed on Saturday.	
    Consumer prices slowed to 5.1 percent in May from 5.3
percent in the same month a year earlier, while monthly
inflation remained unchanged from April at 0.2 percent, data
from the Central Department of Statistics (CDS) showed.	
    Food prices increased by 0.1 percent and housing and rental
items rose by 0.2 percent. Home repairs, fuel and water supply
prices remained unchanged for the month while furnishing and
kitchen appliances prices have declined by 0.3 and 0.1 percent,
respectively.	
    In May, the central bank said in a report that it expects
inflationary pressures to continue in the second quarter.
 	
    The CDS said in February that it expected relative price
stability or even a slight decline in inflationary pressures in
the near term. 	
    Saudi Arabia suffers from a housing shortage that drives up
real estate prices. Last year the government promised to build
half a million new homes at a cost of $67 billion.	
    The largest Arab economy expanded by an officially estimated
6.8 percent in 2011; it is forecast by a Reuters poll of
analysts to grow 4.0 percent this year, but that estimate could
be exceeded if oil prices remain high and Saudi Arabia produces
more oil.

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