Editor's Note: Corrects April 30 story to show inflation would be at a 16-month low, not a 14-month low
MANILA, Philippines -- Inflation likely slowed to a 16-month low in April with oil and food costs muted by base effects from last year's high commodity prices, a Reuters poll shows, supporting the case for more interest rate cuts.
Consumer price inflation was seen at 4.7 percent in April compared to a year earlier, according to the median in a poll of 10 economists, well below the 6.4 percent in March.
The median forecast was near the low end of the central bank's April inflation estimate of 4.5-5.4 percent.
"Inflation is on a downtrend in the Philippines, with a high probability that the annual consumer price index would fall within the official (average target of) 2.5 to 4.5 percent for the year," said Radhika Rao, an economist at IDEAglobal.
The data will be announced on Tuesday.
Inflation has been on a decelerating path since August after a decline in global commodity prices, giving the central bank more room to keep borrowing costs down to aid economic growth.
The central bank is expected to cut interest rates by another 25 basis points at its next meeting on May 28, the same day first-quarter economic growth data is released.
Earlier this month, the central bank lowered the overnight borrowing rate by a quarter percentage point to a 17-year low of 4.5 percent. It was the fourth straight rate cut since December.
"The monetary policy bias remains dovish," said Vishnu Varathan, an economist at Forecast Pte. "Following the last policy meeting, there remains scope for more rate cuts -- albeit in more measured instalments as well as bond market-friendly initiatives."
Other central banks in Asia, like Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, have opted to pause after a series of rate cuts to give their economies time to absorb the moves.
Central bank Governor Amando Tetangco said on Wednesday he did not see an urgent need to add more money to the financial system since banks are awash with cash, indicating the central bank may be nearing the end of the current easing cycle.
Growth is expected to weaken to 3.1-4.1 percent this year when the impact of the global downturn takes its toll, after a 4.6 percent expansion in 2008, based on latest government estimates.
The International Monetary Fund has cut its 2009 growth forecast for the Southeast Asian country to zero from 2.25 percent as it foresees a 7.5 percent contraction this year in remittances to the Philippines, a key driver of economic growth.