KUWAIT. Kuwait's annual inflation eased to a four-month low of 3.3% in April and prices fell on a monthly basis for the first time in more than a year due to a drop in food prices, state news agency KUNA's data showed on Thursday.
Inflation in the major oil exporter edged up to 4.1% in March after easing gradually from a peak of 5.4% in May 2011.
Consumer prices in the OPEC member's $177 billion economy contracted 0.6 percent month-on-month in April, compared to a 0.8 percent rise in March, KUNA said citing data from the Central Statistics Office.
Analysts polled by Reuters in March expected average inflation of 4.5 percent in 2012, down from a three-year high of 4.8 percent last year.
Food costs, which account for almost a fifth of Kuwait consumer expenses, fell by 2.6 percent month-on-month in April, back down to February's levels after a similar jump in March. Transport prices edged up 0.2 percent from the previous month.
Around 3,000 Kuwaiti customs workers went on a week-long strike in March, which disrupted traffic at ports, demanding salary increases despite the government plan for a 25 percent rise in public wages. Employees at national carrier Kuwait Airways grounded planes for three days during a walkout.
Kuwait's civil service commission eventually agreed to wage rises of 25 to 30 percent for public sector employees. It also proposed increases of up to 330 Kuwaiti dinars ($1,190) per month for Kuwaiti private sector workers.
While the country's oil wealth enables it to absorb a spike in earnings in the short term, policymakers and economists warn price pressures will mount if settlements do not moderate.
Most Kuwaitis work for the state in well-paid secure jobs. Around two-thirds of Kuwait's roughly 3 million inhabitants are foreigners.