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Composite CPI up for March
Apr '08
The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) released April 22 the Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures for March 2008. According to the Composite CPI, overall consumer prices rose by 4.2% in March 2008 over a year earlier.

The year-on-year rate of increase in the Composite CPI in March 2008 (4.2%) was significantly lower than that in February 2008 (6.3%). The larger headline inflation rate in February 2008 was attributable to the low base of comparison arising from the waiver of public housing rentals in February 2007, and such effect did not come into play in March 2008.

Meanwhile, the one-off policy measure of rate concession for January to March 2008 continued to carry impact on the CPIs in March 2008 and had lowered their year-on-year rates of increase. Netting out the effect of this factor, the year-on-year rate of increase in the Composite CPI in March 2008 (i.e. the underlying inflation rate) was 5.3%, larger than the corresponding underlying inflation rate in February (5.1%).

The larger underlying inflation rate in March 2008 (5.3%) than in February (5.1%) was due mainly to the enlarged increase in private housing rentals, prices of women's outerclothing bought away from home.

Analysed by sub-index, the year-on-year rates of increase in the CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) were 3.8%, 4.4% and 4.4% respectively in March 2008, which compared to 9.9%, 5.2% and 3.9% in February. Netting out the effects of all relevant one-off factors, the year-on-year increases in the CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) were 5.1%, 5.5% and 5.3% respectively in March 2008, which compared to 5.2%, 5.1% and 4.8% in February.

For discerning the latest trend in consumer prices, it is also useful to look at the changes in the seasonally adjusted CPIs. For the 3-month period from January to March 2008, the average monthly rates of increase in the seasonally adjusted Composite CPI, CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) were 0.4%, 0.4%, 0.4% and 0.3% respectively.

The corresponding rates of increase for the 3-month period from December 2007 to February 2008 were all 0.5%. However, it should be noted that these rates of change were affected by the one-off measures implemented only in some months (i.e. rates concession in January to March 2008 but not in November and December 2007; and the Housing Society's rental waiver in February 2008).

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