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Consumer Prices Rise in September Quarter

The Consumers Price Index rose by 0.6 per cent for the September 1999 quarter. An increase of 8.1 per cent in petrol prices and an increase of 25.4 per cent in motor vehicle re-licensing, registration and warrant of fitness charges were mainly responsible for pushing up the index this quarter, said Government Statistician Len Cook. Overall transport prices rose by 2.5 per cent this quarter.

Prior to this increase in consumer transport prices, a large rise in crude oil prices drove up the imports price index for intermediate goods from the March 1999 quarter to the June 1999 quarter.

Housing was the second largest contributor to the CPI's upward movement. The housing index rose by 1.0 per cent from the June 1999 quarter to the September 1999 quarter, driven up by a local authority rates increase of 4.5 per cent and an increase in rents of 1.0 per cent.

Other main contributors to the increase in prices this quarter were alcoholic drinks and electricity. The largest price falls for the September 1999 quarter came from telephone charges and used cars.

Food and household operation costs were responsible for holding the index down this quarter. A fall in fruit and vegetable prices of 6.8 per cent and the drop in telephone charges of 14.8 per cent were the main contributors to the downward movement for the food and household operation groups.

Excise tax was the main factor driving up the prices of alcoholic drinks, which rose by 1.0 per cent from the June to the September 1999 quarter. Prescription medicines and general practitioners' services, over the same period, pushed up the overall price level for the personal and health care index, which rose by 0.9 per cent.

Compared with a year earlier, the Consumers Price Index was 0.3 per cent lower. While the index recorded a rise overall of 0.2 per cent for the June 1999 quarter, falls were recorded for both the March 1999 and the December 1998 quarters.

A similar pattern was shown by other price measures such as the import price index for consumption goods which rose by 0.3 per cent in the June 1999 quarter. Also, the previously falling levels of output costs inflation as measured by the Producers Price Index, were followed by an increase of 0.4 per cent for the June 1999 quarter. This increase, in turn, reflected the higher prices businesses were charged for their inputs, which rose by 0.6 per cent over the same period.

The September 1999 quarter is the first quarter to be published on the new base period of the June 1999 quarter. As part of the review of the index the base weights were updated to reflect the changing spending patterns of consumers.

These weights indicate the relative importance of items purchased by households. To maintain continuity, the CPI index has been linked to the previously published series. This enables longer term comparisons to be made and meets the commitment not to revise published CPI movements.

A number of new analytical series have also been created to address particular areas of user interest.

The CPI plus interest rose by 0.4 per cent from the June 1999 quarter to the September 1999 quarter and was 0.5 per cent lower when compared with the September 1998 quarter.

The CPI less credit services rose by 0.6 per cent in the September 1999 quarter and is 1.1 per cent higher than a year earlier.

The measure recently announced as the price stability target in the Reserve Bank's Policy Target Agreement is 1.3 per cent higher than a year earlier.


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