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Food, fuel push South African inflation to 4.6%

Rising costs for food and fuel pushed South African inflation to 4.6 percent in May, from 4.2 percent the month before, the national statistics agency said Wednesday.

The figure remained within the government’s target range of three to six percent, but has been steadily rising all year.

Food and non-alcoholic beverage prices, which had dropped 0.1 percent in April, rose 1.7 percent in May.

Petrol prices, which are regulated in South Africa, jumped 29 cents a litre last month, and the economy is still digesting the impact of annual hikes of roughly 25 percent in electricity tariffs.

Such costs could see inflation breaching the edge of the government’s target in early 2012, the central bank has warned.

The central bank’s benchmark interest rate is at 5.5 percent, a 30-year low level, but market expectations are for monetary policymakers to begin pushing the rate up later this year.