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Consumers Price Index: March 2004 quarter

Consumers Price Index: March 2004 quarter CPI Rises 0.4 Percent

The Consumers Price Index (CPI) increased by 0.4 percent in the March 2004 quarter, according to Statistics New Zealand. The housing group continues to make the most significant upward contribution to the CPI, with prices rising by 1.4 percent.

The increase in the March 2004 quarter also reflects higher prices for petrol and vehicle insurance. These increases were partly offset by price decreases for international air travel.

The rise in the housing group in the March 2004 quarter was mainly due to higher prices for the purchase and construction of new dwellings, which increased by 1.6 percent. This follows a 3.3 percent rise in the December 2003 quarter.

Construction prices have increased for 20 consecutive quarters and the annual increase of 8.7 percent is the largest since the June 1995 quarter. Forty-nine percent of surveyed construction prices rose in the March 2004 quarter compared with 61 percent in the December 2003 quarter.

The main reasons cited for rises in the March 2004 quarter were increased subcontractors' charges, higher prices for construction components, and rises in labour costs. Recreation and education costs rose by 1.1 percent in the March 2004 quarter, mainly driven by a 3.6 percent increase in tertiary tuition fees.

Prices for personal and health care rose by 0.9 percent in the March 2004 quarter, reflecting higher prices for medical and health services (up 1.0 percent) and medical and health supplies (up 6.7 percent).

ENDS

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