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CPI Rises 0.6 Percent

16 April

CPI Rises 0.6 Percent The Consumers Price Index (CPI) rose by 0.6 percent in the March 2002 quarter, according to Statistics New Zealand. This follows rises of 0.6 percent in both the December 2001 and September 2001 quarters. The increase of 0.6 percent in the March 2002 quarter reflects higher prices for food and housing, partly offset by lower transportation prices.

Food prices rose 1.2 percent, driven by price rises in grocery foods (up 0.8 percent), and fruit and vegetables (up 3.2 percent). The increase in grocery food prices in the March quarter was driven by a large number of items showing relatively small price rises. The increase in fruit and vegetable prices this quarter was largely due to an 8.1 percent increase in January. This was followed by price falls in both February and March of 1.7 percent and 2.4 percent respectively.

The housing group rose by 1.0 percent in the March 2002 quarter, driven by an increase of 1.4 percent for the purchase and construction of new dwellings. In the March 2002 quarter, 38 percent of surveyed construction prices rose, compared with 27 percent in the December 2001 quarter and 18 percent in the September 2001 quarter. Rented dwellings recorded an increase of 0.6 percent in the March 2002 quarter.

Tobacco and alcohol also made an upward contribution to the overall CPI movement in the March 2002 quarter, increasing by 1.1 percent. On 1 December 2001 the excise duty on cigarettes and tobacco increased by 2.4 percent. Alcoholic drinks recorded an increase of 0.6 percent in the March 2002 quarter.

The most significant downward contribution to the CPI in the March 2002 quarter came from a fall of 0.6 percent in transportation prices. This movement was mainly due to lower prices for international air travel (down 8.1 percent) and reflects normal patterns at this time of year. These downward contributions were partly offset by rises in prices for used cars (up 2.3 percent) and domestic air travel (up 2.3 percent).

On an annual basis, the CPI is 2.6 percent higher than a year earlier.

Brian Pink Government Statistician

END

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