Indian inflation at 7.6-pct in April

NEW DELHI, May 9, 2008 (AFP) – India’s annual inflation rate rose marginally to a near four-year high at 7.61 percent on the back of rising food prices, official data released Friday showed. The government immediately announced prices were stabilising and would soon come down after weeks of steady increases.

Inflation moved up for the week ended April 26 from 7.57 percent the previous week, according to the Wholesale Price Index, India’s most closely watched cost monitor.

The latest figures came a day after the government halted futures trading in key staple foods such as chickpeas, soybean oil and potatoes for four months to try and tame surging prices.

The government had already suspended futures trading in other basic foods such as rice and wheat.

Futures contracts involve betting on future price movements of such items as commodities, bonds, currencies and shares.

This week, steelmakers pledged to cut prices after a plea by the government which has had to watch as prices soared far above the Reserve Bank of India’s declared comfort level of 5.50 percent for the current financial year to March 2009.

Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said Friday that t