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The Consumers Price Index (CPI) increased 0.3 percent in the March 2009 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today. Higher prices for food and cigarettes were largely offset by lower prices for transport.
The food group rose 1.2 percent in the March 2009 quarter, driven by higher prices for grocery food (up 1.4 percent). If food prices had remained constant from the December 2008 quarter, the CPI would have also remained constant.
The alcoholic beverages and tobacco group (up 1.8 percent) also made a significant upward contribution, reflecting higher prices for cigarettes and tobacco (up 4.3 percent). The excise duty for cigarettes and tobacco rose 5.07 percent on 1 January 2009.
The housing and household utilities group rose 0.3 percent in the March 2009 quarter. This is the smallest increase since the June 2001 quarter. Prices for the purchase of new housing recorded no overall change in the latest quarter.
The transport group (down 1.5 percent) made the most significant downward contribution to the CPI, driven by lower prices for international air transport (down 16.5 percent), diesel (down 19.2 percent), and petrol (down 1.0 percent). Higher prices for second-hand cars (up 3.5 percent) made the largest individual upward contribution.
The CPI increased 3.0 percent from the March 2008 quarter to the March 2009 quarter. The food group (up 8.8 percent) accounted for half the increase, driven by grocery food prices (up 8.9 percent). The housing and household utilities group (up 3.6 percent), with higher prices for electricity (up 7.5 percent), also made a significant contribution. The transport group (down 2.6 percent) made a significant downward contribution, reflecting lower prices for petrol (down 9.3 percent).