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Consumer Price Indices for December 2011
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     The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) released today (January 20) the Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures for December 2011.  According to the Composite CPI, overall consumer prices rose by 5.7% in December 2011 over the same month a year earlier, same as that in November 2011.  Netting out the effects of all Government's one-off relief measures, the year-on-year rate of increase in the Composite CPI (i.e. the underlying inflation rate) in December 2011 was 6.4%, also same as that in November.  

     On a seasonally adjusted basis, the average monthly rate of increase in the Composite CPI for the 3-month period from October to December 2011 was 1.2%, the same as that for the 3-month period from September to November 2011.  Netting out the effects of all Government's one-off relief measures, the average monthly rate of increase in the Composite CPI for the 3-month period from October to December 2011 was 0.4%, the same as that for the 3-month period from September to November 2011.  

     Analysed by sub-index, the year-on-year rates of increase in the CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) were 5.3%, 5.9% and 5.9% respectively in December 2011, which compared to 5.3%, 6.0% and 5.9% respectively in November.  Netting out the effects of all Government's one-off relief measures, the year-on-year rates of increase in the CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) were 6.3%, 6.5% and 6.2% respectively in December 2011, same as that in November.  

     On a seasonally adjusted basis, for the 3-month period from October to December 2011, the average monthly rates of increase in the seasonally adjusted CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) were 2.7%, 0.7% and 0.3% respectively, same as those for the 3-month period from September to November 2011.  Netting out the effects of all Government's one-off relief measures, the corresponding average monthly rates of increase in the seasonally adjusted CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) for the 3-month period from October to December 2011 were 0.4%, 0.4% and 0.3% respectively, same as those rates of increase for the 3-month period from September to November 2011.  

     Amongst the various CPI components, year-on-year increases in prices were recorded in December 2011 for alcoholic drinks and tobacco (20.3% in the Composite CPI and 22.4% in the CPI(A), mainly due to the increase in tobacco duty by 41.5%); food (excluding meals bought away from home) (11.5% in the Composite CPI and 12.1% in the CPI(A)); housing (8.5% in the Composite CPI and 7.0% in the CPI(A)); clothing and footwear (6.1% in the Composite CPI and 7.1% in the CPI(A)); meals bought away from home (6.0% in the Composite CPI and 6.3% in the CPI(A)); transport (4.4% in the Composite CPI and 3.8% in the CPI(A)); miscellaneous services (3.8% in the Composite CPI and 2.1% in the CPI(A)) and miscellaneous goods (3.6% in the Composite CPI and 2.9% in the CPI(A)).  

     On the other hand, year-on-year decrease in prices were recorded in December 2011 for electricity, gas and water (-16.7% in the Composite CPI and -18.8% in the CPI(A), largely as a result of the Government's electricity charge subsidy) and durable goods (-3.0% in the Composite CPI and -3.3% in the CPI(A)).  

     In the fourth quarter of 2011, the Composite CPI rose by 5.7% over a year earlier, while the CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) rose by 5.3%, 6.0% and 6.0% respectively.  The corresponding increases after netting out the effects of all Government's one-off relief measures were 6.4%, 6.3%, 6.5% and 6.2% respectively.  

     For 2011 as a whole, the Composite CPI was on average 5.3% higher than in the preceding 12-month period.  The respective increases in the CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) were 5.6%, 5.2% and 5.1%.  The corresponding increases after netting out the effects of all Government's one-off relief measures were 5.3%, 5.4%, 5.3% and 5.3% respectively.  

     The new 2009/10-based CPI series, as was first announced by the C&SD on April 28, 2011, is compiled on the basis of the expenditure patterns obtained from the Household Expenditure Survey (HES) conducted during October 2009 to September 2010.  It replaces the old 2004/05-based series for analysing consumer price changes.  After the reference month of December 2011 (i.e. the current month), the old 2004/05-based CPI series will cease to be compiled.  It is an established practice in Hong Kong for the HES to be conducted and for the CPI series to be rebased once every five years.  Both the old and the new series of CPIs have been exhibiting a similar trend in recent months.

Commentary

     A Government spokesman said that underlying inflation held stable at a year-on-year rate of 6.4% for the fourth consecutive month in December.  Food price and private housing rentals remained the largest contributors to inflation, accounting for over 75% of the underlying inflation in that month.  For 2011 as a whole, underlying consumer price inflation averaged at 5.3%, the same as the Government's earlier forecast.

     The spokesman commented further that, looking ahead, price pressures on both the external and domestic fronts are likely to ease over the course of 2012, alongside the recent retreat of global food and commodity prices as well as the slowing growth momentum of the local economy.  The Government will closely monitor the local inflation situation, particularly its impact on the lower-income people.

Further information

     The CPIs and year-on-year rates of change at section level for December 2011 are shown in Table 1.  The time series on the year-on-year rates of change in the CPIs before and after removing the effects of one-off measures are shown in Table 2.  For discerning the latest trend in consumer prices, it is also useful to look at the changes in the seasonally adjusted CPIs.  The corresponding time series on the average monthly rates of change during the latest 3 months for the seasonally adjusted CPIs are shown in Table 3.  The rates of change in the original and the seasonally adjusted Composite CPI and the underlying inflation rate are presented graphically in Chart 1.

     More detailed CPI data (including year-on-year comparison, month-to-month comparison and seasonally adjusted data series) are available in the monthly reports.  Users can download the December 2011 issue of the Monthly Report on the Consumer Price Index free of charge at the website of the C&SD (www.censtatd.gov.hk/products_and_services/products/publications/statistical_report/prices_household_expenditure/index.jsp).  

     For enquiries about the CPIs, please contact the Consumer Price Index Section of the C&SD at telephone No. 2805 6403 or e-mail address [email protected]

Ends/Friday, January 20, 2012
Issued at HKT 16:31

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