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Consumer Price Indices for February 2013
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     The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) released today (March 21) the Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures for February 2013. According to the Composite CPI, overall consumer prices rose by 4.4% in February 2013 over the same month a year earlier, larger than the corresponding increase (3.0%) in January 2013. 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 February 2013 was also 4.4%, also larger than that in January (3.1%).

     The larger increase was mainly attributable to the difference in the timing of the Lunar New Year, which occurred in February this year but in January last year, resulting in a surge in the charges for package tours, the costs for meals bought away from home, the prices of poultry and the other fresh sea products in February 2013.

     Taking the first two months of 2013 together to neutralise the effect of the Lunar New Year, the Composite CPI rose by 3.7% over a year earlier. Netting out the effect of all Government's one-off relief measures, the Composite CPI rose by 3.8% in the first two months of 2013 over a year earlier.

     On a seasonally adjusted basis, the average monthly rate of increase in the Composite CPI for the 3-month period from December 2012 to February 2013 was 0.5%, and that for the 3-month period from November 2012 to January 2013 was 0.3%. 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 December 2012 to February 2013 was 0.5%, and that for the 3-month period from November 2012 to January 2013 was 0.3%.

     Analysed by sub-index, the year-on-year rates of increase in the CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) were 4.7%, 4.2% and 4.2% respectively in February 2013, which compared to 3.8%, 2.8% and 2.4% respectively in January. 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 4.7%, 4.2% and 4.3% respectively in February 2013, which compared to 3.8%, 2.9% and 2.5% respectively in January.

     Taking the first two months of 2013 together, the CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) rose by 4.2%, 3.5% and 3.3% respectively over a year earlier. Netting out the effects of all Government's one-off relief measures, the CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) rose by 4.3%, 3.6% and 3.4% respectively in the first two months of 2013 over a year earlier.

     On a seasonally adjusted basis, for the 3-month period from December 2012 to February 2013, the average monthly rates of increase in the seasonally adjusted CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) were 0.5%, 0.4% and 0.4% respectively. The corresponding rates of increase for the 3-month period from November 2012 to January 2013 were 0.4%, 0.3% 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 3-month period from December 2012 to February 2013 were 0.5%, 0.4% and 0.4% respectively, and the corresponding rates of increase for the 3-month period from November 2012 to January 2013 were 0.4%, 0.3% and 0.3% respectively.

     Amongst the various CPI components, year-on-year increases in prices were recorded in February 2013 for miscellaneous services (6.1% in the Composite CPI and 4.2% in the CPI(A)); food (excluding meals bought away from home) (5.4% in the Composite CPI and 5.6% in the CPI(A)); housing (5.3% in the Composite CPI and 6.3% in the CPI(A)); meals bought away from home (4.8% in the Composite CPI and 4.9% in the CPI(A)); electricity, gas and water (4.7% in the Composite CPI and 5.0% in the CPI(A)); transport (2.2% in the Composite CPI and 1.3% in the CPI(A)); clothing and footwear (1.7% in the Composite CPI and 3.3% in the CPI(A)); miscellaneous goods (1.4% in the Composite CPI and 1.6% in the CPI(A)) and alcoholic drinks and tobacco (1.4% in the Composite CPI and 1.2% in the CPI(A)).

     On the other hand, year-on-year decrease in prices were recorded in February 2013 for durable goods (-3.8% in the Composite CPI and -4.0% in the CPI(A)).

     For the 3 months ended February 2013, the Composite CPI rose by 3.7% over a year earlier, while the CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) rose by 4.2%, 3.5% and 3.3% respectively. The corresponding increases after netting out the effects of all Government's one-off relief measures were 3.8%, 4.3%, 3.6% and 3.5% respectively.

     For the 12 months ended February 2013, the Composite CPI was on average 3.8% higher than in the preceding 12-month period. The respective increases in the CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) were 3.5%, 4.0% and 3.7%. The corresponding increases after netting out the effects of all Government's one-off relief measures were 4.3%, 4.6%, 4.3% and 3.9% respectively.

Commentary

     A Government spokesman said that the higher year-on-year rate of consumer price inflation in February was distorted by the timing of the Lunar New Year, which fell in February this year but January last year. Taking January and February together to remove such distortions, the underlying Composite CPI rose by 3.8% over a year earlier, which was actually the same as those in the last few months of 2012.

     The spokesman commented further that, looking ahead, inflationary pressures should remain largely contained in the near term, given the moderated increase in import prices and below-trend growth of the local economy. Nevertheless, we need to stay alert to upside risks to inflation stemming from the potential volatility of international food and commodity prices amid the global liquidity glut, as well as the progressive feed-through of higher housing rentals. The Government will continue to monitor the inflation situation closely, particularly its impact on the lower-income people.

Further information

     The CPIs and year-on-year rates of change at section level for February 2013 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 February 2013 issue of the Monthly Report on the Consumer Price Index free of charge at the website of the C&SD (www.censtatd.gov.hk/hkstat/sub/sp270.jsp?productCode=B1060001).

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

Ends/Thursday, March 21, 2013
Issued at HKT 16:30

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