CPI rises 0.5 percent in March quarter

The consumers price index (CPI) rose 0.5 percent for the March 2012 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today. "The main reason for the rise was higher cigarette and tobacco prices," Statistics NZ prices
manager Chris Pike said.

Cigarette and tobacco prices rose 13.5 percent in the March 2012 quarter, reflecting a 14.49 percent rise in excise duty on 1 January 2012.

"Prices were also higher for petrol, rentals for housing, and insurance. These rises were partly countered by price falls for international air fares and overseas package holidays," Mr Pike said.

Petrol prices were the second biggest contributor, up 2.3 percent. "Petrol prices are now 0.2 percent below their June 2011 quarter peak," Mr Pike said.

The housing and household utilities group rose 0.7 percent, mainly due to higher rentals for housing (up 0.9 percent). Higher prices were also recorded for property maintenance (up 1.2 percent) and purchase of new housing (up 0.7 percent).

Insurance premiums rose 3.0 percent, mainly due to higher dwelling insurance prices (up 18 percent, reflecting increased Earthquake Commission levies).

The main price fall was for overseas package holidays, down 12 percent. Prices for overseas package holidays usually fall in March quarters, following rises in December quarters.

International air fares also fell, down 9.2 percent they usually fall in March quarters after seasonal peaks in December quarters. International air fares often fall by 8 or 9 percent in March quarters, and sometimes more, Mr Pike said.

The CPI rose 1.6 percent in the year to the March 2012 quarter. Cigarette and tobacco prices increased 13.5 percent. Prices also rose for petrol (up 3.7 percent), rentals for housing (up 2.3 percent), and second-hand cars (up 8.9 percent).

The main downward contributions for the year to the March 2012 quarter came from lower prices for telecommunication services (down 7.7 percent), audio-visual equipment (down 18 percent), and vegetables (down 8.4 percent).

The CPI measures the rate of price change of goods and services purchased by New Zealand households. Statistics NZ visits 3,000 shops across New Zealand to collect prices for the CPI and check product sizes and features.