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Consumer Price Indices for January 2012
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     The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) released today (February 20) the Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures for January 2012.  According to the Composite CPI, overall consumer prices rose by 6.1% in January 2012 over the same month a year earlier, larger than the corresponding increase (5.7%) in December 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 January 2012 was 6.7%, also larger than that in December 2011 (6.4%).
  
     The larger increase was mainly attributable to the difference in the timing of the Lunar New Year, which occurred in January this year but in February last year, resulting in a surge in the charges for package tours, the costs for meals bought away from home and the prices of other fresh sea products in January 2012.

     On a seasonally adjusted basis, the average monthly rate of increase in the Composite CPI for the three-month period from November 2011 to January 2012 was 0.5%, and that for the three-month period from October to December 2011 was 1.2%.  Netting out the effects of all Government's one-off relief measures, the average monthly rate of increase in the Composite CPI for the three-month period from November 2011 to January 2012 was 0.5%, and that for the three-month period from October to December 2011 was 0.4%.  

     Analysed by sub-index, the year-on-year rates of increase in the CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) were 5.4%, 6.3% and 6.4% respectively in January 2012, which compared to 5.3%, 5.9% and 5.9% respectively in December 2011.  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 6.4%, 6.9% and 6.7% respectively in January 2012, which compared to 6.3%, 6.5% and 6.2% respectively in December 2011.  

     On a seasonally adjusted basis, for the three-month period from November 2011 to January 2012, the average monthly rates of increase in the seasonally adjusted CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) were all 0.5%.  The corresponding rates of increase for the three-month period from October to December 2011 were 2.7%, 0.7% and 0.3%.  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 three-month period from November 2011 to January 2012 were all 0.5%, and the corresponding rates of increase for the three-month period from October to December 2011 were 0.4%, 0.4% and 0.3% respectively.  

     Amongst the various CPI components, year-on-year increases in prices were recorded in January 2012 for alcoholic drinks and tobacco (19.5% in the Composite CPI and 22.1% in the CPI(A), mainly due to the increase in tobacco duty by 41.5%); food (excluding meals bought away from home) (10.9% in the Composite CPI and 11.0% in the CPI(A)); housing (8.5% in the Composite CPI and 7.1% in the CPI(A)); meals bought away from home (6.5% in the Composite CPI and 6.7% in the CPI(A)); miscellaneous services (5.6% in the Composite CPI and 3.2% in the CPI(A)); clothing and footwear (5.4% in the Composite CPI and 5.5% in the CPI(A)); transport (4.6% in the Composite CPI and 4.0% in the CPI(A)) and miscellaneous goods (3.0% in the Composite CPI and 2.7% in the CPI(A)).
  
     On the other hand, year-on-year decrease in prices were recorded in January 2012 for electricity, gas and water (-15.6% in the Composite CPI and -17.9% in the CPI(A), largely as a result of the Government's electricity charge subsidy) and durable goods (-2.4% in the Composite CPI and -2.7% in the CPI(A)).  

     For the three months ended January 2012, the Composite CPI rose by 5.8% over a year earlier, while the CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) rose by 5.4%, 6.1% and 6.1% respectively.  The corresponding increases after netting out the effects of all Government's one-off relief measures were 6.5%, 6.3%, 6.6% and 6.3% respectively.  

     For the 12 months ended January 2012, the Composite CPI was on average 5.5% higher than in the preceding 12-month period.  The respective increases in the CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) were 5.8%, 5.4% and 5.4%.  The corresponding increases after netting out the effects of all Government's one-off relief measures were 5.6%, 5.6%, 5.6% and 5.5% respectively.  

Commentary

     A Government spokesman said that the year-on-year rate of underlying inflation went up in January 2012 after holding stable for four straight months.  This was mainly attributable to the difference in the timing of the Lunar New Year, which fell in late January this year but in early February last year.  As such, it would be more meaningful to examine the figures for January and February combined, when available, in order to form a better judgment on the underlying inflation trend.

     The spokesman commented further that, looking ahead, with the recent retreat of global food and commodity prices as well as slower local economic growth, inflation should gradually come down over the course of 2012.  The Government will continue to 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 January 2012 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 three 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 January 2012 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/Monday, February 20, 2012
Issued at HKT 16:30

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