Food inflation inched up further to 17.97 per cent for the week ended February 6 from 17.94 per cent in the previous week to show no signs of abating even as the food price spiral has already seeped into the manufacturing sector to take the WPI (wholesale price index) headline inflation to 8.56 per cent in January from 7.31 per cent in December last year. With a hike in petroleum fuel prices on the cards sooner than later, a fresh bout of an overall inflationary surge appears to be a distinct possibility and is turning out to be the government's prime concern now. Already, despite the various supply-side measures put in place to check rising prices, the headline inflation has breached the Reserve Bank of India projection of 8.5 per cent for the current fiscal. Economic analysts estimate that by the end of March 31, 2010, WPI inflation may be close to, if not cross, the 10 per cent mark.

Commenting on the inflationary surge on Wednesday, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee noted that rising prices was a matter of concern but hoped that the situation would ease in the next few months.

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