The week ahead will bring a raft of economic data and probably a rate cut. On Thursday, the Reserve Bank monetary policy committee (MPC) will announce whether to make a further cut in its official repo rate - currently at 9.5 percent.

After a 5 percentage point hike between June 2006 and June last year, the bank started cutting the repo rate from its peak of 12 percent in December.

As the MPC starts its two-day meeting on Wednesday, Statistics SA will release inflation figures for last month that will indicate how long it will take before inflation falls back within the bank's target range of between 3 percent and 6 percent.

Consumer price inflation, which has been above the target ceiling since March 2007, peaked at 13.4 percent in August. Its downward trend to 8.1 percent in January was halted when it rose to 8.6 percent in February.

Inflation will be buoyed by higher electricity prices. Nedbank Capital said Eskom planned to spend R385 billion on new power plants over the next five years. As it was "increasingly difficult and costly to raise capital internationally", the funding would have to come out of higher electricity tariffs.

Nedbank economist Carmen Altenkirch said the March figure would be affected by the results from a number of surveys, including owner's equivalent rent, rent, domestic worker wages and public transport.

Altenkirch said: "Fuel prices rose again in March, which will add to the month-on-month increase."

As a result, "inflation could surprise on the upside", she said, adding that the longer-term outlook for inflation would be affected by services inflation.

When a new consumer basket was introduced in January, the weighting of services was raised from 40.58 percent to 45.8 percent.