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Consumer Price Indices for February 2015
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     The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) released today (March 20) the Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures for February 2015. According to the Composite CPI, overall consumer prices rose by 4.6% in February 2015 over the same month a year earlier, larger than the corresponding increase (4.1%) in January 2015. 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 2015 was 2.8%, also larger than that in January (2.3%). The larger increase was mainly attributable to the difference in the timing of the Lunar New Year, which fell in February this year but in late January last year.

     Taking the first two months of 2015 together to neutralise the effect of the Lunar New Year, the Composite CPI rose by 4.3% over a year earlier. Netting out the effect of all Government's one-off relief measures, the Composite CPI rose by 2.6% in the first two months of 2015 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 2014 to February 2015 was 0.1%, the same as that for the 3-month period from November 2014 to January 2015. 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 2014 to February 2015 was 0.1%, the same as that for the 3-month period from November 2014 to January 2015.

     Analysed by sub-index, the year-on-year rates of increase in the CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) were 6.5%, 4.2% and 3.0% respectively in February 2015, which compared to 6.3%, 3.6% and 2.2% 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 3.5%, 2.7% and 2.2% respectively in February 2015, which compared to 3.3%, 2.1% and 1.4% respectively in January.

     Taking the first two months of 2015 together, the CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) rose by 6.4%, 3.9% and 2.6% 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 3.4%, 2.4% and 1.7% respectively in the first two months of 2015 over a year earlier.

     On a seasonally adjusted basis, for the 3-month period from December 2014 to February 2015, the average monthly rates of change in the seasonally adjusted CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) were 0.1%, 0.1% and virtually nil respectively, same as those for the 3-month period from November 2014 to January 2015. Netting out the effects of all Government's one-off relief measures, the corresponding average monthly rates of change in the seasonally adjusted CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) for the 3-month period from December 2014 to February 2015 were 0.1%, 0.1% and virtually nil respectively, same as those for the 3-month period from November 2014 to January 2015.

     Amongst the various CPI components, year-on-year increases in prices were recorded in February 2015 for electricity, gas and water (21.8% in the Composite CPI and 26.6% in the CPI(A), mainly because some households had used up the full amount of Government's one-off electricity charge subsidy); housing (8.2% in the Composite CPI and 11.5% in the CPI(A), due mainly to dissipation of effect of rates concession since October 2014); alcoholic drinks and tobacco (6.3% in the Composite CPI and 7.3% in the CPI(A), mainly due to the increase of tobacco duty); meals bought away from home (4.4% in the Composite CPI and 4.2% in the CPI(A)); food (excluding meals bought away from home) (3.1% in the Composite CPI and 3.0% in the CPI(A)); miscellaneous services (2.2% in the Composite CPI and 2.3% in the CPI(A)) and miscellaneous goods (1.1% in both the Composite CPI and CPI(A)).

     On the other hand, year-on-year decrease in prices were recorded in February 2015 for durable goods (-5.6% in the Composite CPI and -5.5% in the CPI(A)) as well as clothing and footwear (-0.9% in the Composite CPI and -0.8% in the CPI(A)).

     As for transport, the Composite CPI fell by 0.2% over a year earlier but the CPI(A) rose by 1.5%.

     For the 3 months ended February 2015, the Composite CPI rose by 4.5% over a year earlier, while the CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) rose by 6.6%, 4.1% and 2.8% respectively. The corresponding increases after netting out the effects of all Government's one-off relief measures were 2.7%, 3.6%, 2.6% and 2.0% respectively.

     For the 12 months ended February 2015, the Composite CPI was on average 4.4% higher than in the preceding 12-month period. The respective increases in the CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) were 5.9%, 4.1% and 3.3%. The corresponding increases after netting out the effects of all Government's one-off relief measures were 3.2%, 3.8%, 3.2% and 2.7% respectively.

Commentary

     A Government spokesman said that inflation remained on an easing trend in early 2015. Taking the first two months of 2015 together to neutralise the distortions by the difference in timing of the Lunar New Year between this year and last year, the year-on-year rate of the underlying Composite CPI inflation eased to 2.6% from 3.1% in December 2014. The easing of price pressures was evident in many consumption items, including the declines in fuel prices, lower charges for package tours, as well as slower increases in food prices and private housing rentals.

     The spokesman commented further that, looking ahead, the mild imported inflation and moderate local cost pressures should continue to contain price pressures in the near term. The Government will continue to monitor the inflation developments 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 2015 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, seasonally adjusted data series and the CPIs by the Classification of Individual Consumption According to Purpose (COICOP)) are available in the monthly reports. Users can download the February 2015 issue of the Monthly Report on the Consumer Price Index (www.censtatd.gov.hk/hkstat/sub/sp270.jsp?productCode=B1060001), the time series of CPIs at detailed level (www.censtatd.gov.hk/hkstat/sub/sp270.jsp?productCode=D5600001) as well as the time series of CPIs at COICOP division level (www.censtatd.gov.hk/hkstat/sub/sp270.jsp?productCode=D5600002) free of charge at the website of the C&SD.

     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/Friday, March 20, 2015
Issued at HKT 16:30

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