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Consumers Price Index: December 1999 quarter

Consumers Price Index: December 1999 quarter

December CPI Rises 0.2 Per Cent

The Consumers Price Index (CPI) rose by 0.2 per cent in the December 1999 quarter, said Deputy Government Statistician Ian Ewing, mainly reflecting rises in petrol prices.

This latest quarterly increase follows a rise of 0.4 per cent in the September 1999 quarter. In addition to petrol, the most significant upward movements in the December 1999 quarter came from the cost of purchase and construction of new dwellings, beef, domestic airfares, rental car hire and new cars. Price falls were recorded for electricity, potatoes, telephone call charges and financial service charges. The CPI less credit services rose by 0.3 per cent in the December 1999 quarter.

On an annual basis the CPI is 0.5 per cent higher than a year ago. This follows a 0.5 per cent decrease from the September 1998 quarter to the September 1999 quarter. The CPI less credit services was 1.3 per cent higher than in the December 1998 quarter. Overall, annual increases for the CPI less credit services have remained relatively flat at around 1.0 per cent since the year to the December 1998 quarter.

Petrol made the most significant contribution to the overall CPI increase in the December 1999 quarter, rising by 6.3 per cent following an increase of 7.7 per cent in the September 1999 quarter. On an annual basis, petrol prices increased by 11.9 per cent from the December 1998 to the December 1999 quarter. The December 1999 annual increase is the largest since the December 1990 quarter when an annual increase of 17.5 per cent was recorded.

In addition to petrol, other significant transportation group price increases in the December 1999 quarter included domestic airfares, rental car hire and new cars. On an annual basis the transportation group is now 4.6 per cent higher than in the December 1998 quarter.

The housing group rose 0.3 per cent in the December 1999 quarter. The main contributions to this increase were price rises for purchase and construction of new dwellings (up 0.6 per cent), maintenance materials and services (up 0.4 per cent), expenses of dwelling purchase (up 0.3 per cent) and local authority rates (up 0.3 per cent). Dwelling insurance decreased by 0.6 per cent in the December 1999 quarter. Housing costs are now 0.9 per cent higher than a year earlier.

The tobacco and alcohol group recorded an increase of 0.2 per cent for the December 1999 quarter. On an annual basis tobacco and alcohol prices are 1.4 per cent higher than a year earlier. The upward movement this quarter was largely due to the 0.5 per cent increase in cigarettes and tobacco, following the annual excise tax adjustment on 1 December 1999. Alcoholic drink prices increased 0.1 per cent in the December 1999 quarter.

Food prices were down 0.4 per cent this quarter compared with decreases of 0.6 per cent in both the September and June 1999 quarters. The predominant contributor to this group's fall was fruit and vegetable prices (down 5.7 per cent).

An electricity price fall of 1.5 per cent in the December 1999 quarter, mainly caused by a move from winter to summer rates in the South Island, contributed to the 0.5 per cent fall in the household operation group. Other significant contributors included telephone call charges (down 1.8 per cent) and household appliances and equipment (down 1.3 per cent) where falls were recorded for a wide range of items.

Ian Ewing DEPUTY GOVERNMENT STATISTICIAN

END There is a companion Hot Off The Press information release published - Consumers Price Index - December 1999 quarter

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