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CPI Falls 0.2 Per Cent

Consumers Price Index: March 2001 quarter

CPI Falls 0.2 Per Cent

The Consumers Price Index (CPI) fell by 0.2 per cent in the March 2001 quarter, according to Statistics New Zealand. This follows an increase of 1.2 per cent in the December 2000 quarter. It is the first fall in the CPI since the March 1999 quarter, when it fell 0.3 per cent.

The fall of 0.2 per cent was strongly influenced by the move from market rents to income related rents for Housing New Zealand tenants. The implementation of this change caused dwelling rentals to fall 9.7 per cent, resulting in a 1.9 per cent fall in the housing group of the CPI. If Housing New Zealand rentals had remained unchanged from the December 2000 quarter to the March 2001 quarter, the CPI for the March quarter would have increased by 0.4 percent.

The only other significant group-level contribution to the fall in the CPI from the previous quarter came from the transportation group, which fell 2.6 per cent. The items responsible for the fall in this group were petrol (down 8.7 per cent) and the usual seasonal fall in international air travel, which fell 8.0 per cent this quarter.

The recreation and education group showed a marginal decrease of 0.2 per cent from the last quarter of last year. This small decrease was the result of a 10.4 per cent decrease in the price of stationery with the customary "back-to-school specials".

The credit services group also recorded a drop in prices of 2.5 per cent, due to a number of financial institutions reducing their loan application fees.

The most significant upward contributions came from the food group, the tobacco and alcohol group, and the personal and health care group. All the subgroups in the food group recorded increases in the March 2001 quarter, with the fruit and vegetables subgroup making the most significant contribution with an increase of 9.3 per cent. Both subgroups in the tobacco and alcohol group showed increases in prices, with cigarettes and tobacco making the largest contribution with an increase of 2.5 per cent, mainly due to the annual rise in excise duty on cigarettes and tobacco. The personal and health care group rose by 1.6 per cent as a result of a 6.8 per cent increase for medical insurance.

The most significant individual upward item-contributions to the CPI came from used cars, cigarettes and medical insurance.

The services component of the CPI fell by 1.5 per cent, while the goods component rose by 0.6 per cent from the previous quarter. The fall in the prices of services can be mainly attributed to the fall in dwelling rentals and the price of international air travel.

On an annual basis, the CPI is 3.1 per cent higher than a year ago. This is the sixth consecutive annual increase in the index.


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