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CPI Rises 0.4 Percent

CPI Rises 0.4 Percent

The Consumers Price Index (CPI) rose by 0.4 percent in the March 2003 quarter, according to Statistics New Zealand. This mainly reflects higher prices for housing, cigarettes and petrol, along with a seasonal fall in fares for international air travel.

Housing prices rose by 1.0 percent in the March 2003 quarter, driven by increases in the purchase and construction of new dwellings (up 1.4 percent). The rising cost of construction materials was widely reported by surveyed builders as a contributing reason for this increase.

Less significant upward contributions to the increase in housing came from price rises for rents (up 0.8 percent) and real estate service fees (up 3.1 percent).

A 0.7 percent rise in tobacco and alcohol prices made the next most significant contribution to the increase in the CPI in the March 2003 quarter. On 1 December 2002 the excise duty on cigarettes and tobacco increased by 2.6 percent. Cigarettes and tobacco prices rose by 2.8 percent in the March 2003 quarter, following a rise of 1.1 percent in the December 2002 quarter.

Transportation prices rose by 0.4 percent in the March 2003 quarter. This increase was mainly due to a 6.3 percent price rise for petrol and a partly offsetting fall in prices for international air travel (down 6.6 percent). The fall in international air travel prices reflects normal patterns at this time of year.

On an annual basis, the CPI is 2.5 percent higher than a year earlier.

Brian Pink

Government Statistician

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