The combined producer and import price index rose a further 0.2 percent on the month in December, its fifth straight gain. Annual inflation was 1.8 percent, unchanged from its November outturn.
The latest monthly advance in part reflected a 0.1 percent increase in domestic producer prices but was largely attributable to a 0.4 percent bounce in import charges. The yearly rate for the former now stands at 0.5 percent and for the latter, fully 4.5 percent in respect of the slide in the Swiss franc since the middle of 2017.
Within the PPI, the largest monthly rises were seen in waste management (2.2 percent), autos and other means of transport (1.2 percent) and agriculture and forestry products (also 1.2 percent). However, much of this impact was offset by a sharp fall in petrol (2.6 percent). The core PPI was up 0.1 percent from mid-quarter and just 0.2 percent higher on the year. Import costs were dominated by a spike in coal, crude oil and natural gas (4.0 percent).
The underlying composite index was 0.1 percent firmer on the month which saw its yearly rate extend its climb into positive territory by a couple of ticks to 0.8 percent. Pipeline inflation pressures continue to build but only slowly and essentially due to exchange rate weakness. Accordingly, the SNB cannot afford to allow its currency to reverse the current slide for fear of unwinding the limited progress made so far on boosting consumer prices.