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No Change in June Quarter CPI

There was no overall movement in the June 2003 quarter Consumers Price Index (CPI), according to Statistics New Zealand. Price increases for housing and electricity were offset by price falls for petrol and used cars. This is the first quarter since the March 1994 quarter that overall consumer prices have remained unchanged; however, quarterly falls in the CPI have been recorded on four occasions since then. The most recent fall was a 0.2 percent decrease in the March 2001 quarter.

Housing prices rose 1.3 percent in the June 2003 quarter, driven by increases in the purchase and construction of new dwellings (up 1.8 percent). The rising cost of construction materials was widely reported by surveyed builders as a contributing reason for this increase. The next most significant upward contribution to the increase in housing came from price rises for rents (up 1.0 percent).

Higher prices for the purchase and construction of new dwellings and for rents were the most significant upward contributors to the overall CPI in the June 2003 quarter. A 1.8 percent rise in electricity prices made the next most significant upward contribution to the CPI. Transportation prices fell 2.6 percent in the June 2003 quarter. This decrease was mainly due to a 9.7 percent price fall for petrol and a 3.0 percent fall in prices for used cars. In the six-month period from the December 2002 quarter to the June 2003 quarter, petrol prices fell 4.0 percent.

On an annual basis, the CPI is 1.5 percent higher than a year earlier. This is the lowest annual increase since the March 2000 quarter, when the CPI also rose by 1.5 percent. The most significant contribution to the change in the CPI from the June 2002 quarter to the June 2003 quarter came from a 5.8 percent rise in prices for the purchase and construction of new dwellings.

Brian Pink Government Statistician END

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