The consumers price index (CPI) fell 0.2 percent in the December 2014 quarter, following three consecutive rises of 0.3 percent, Statistics New Zealand said today. The CPI often falls in December quarters.
“Lower prices for petrol and vegetables were partly countered by higher prices for international travel and housing-related costs,” prices manager Chris Pike said.
Petrol prices (down 5.7 percent) made the largest downward contribution. Excluding petrol, the CPI showed a 0.1 percent rise this quarter. The average price of a litre of 91 octane petrol in the December 2014 quarter was $2.00, compared with $2.12 in the previous quarter. By the end of the December quarter, petrol pump prices were 7 percent below the average price for the quarter, and as at 16 January were 17 percent below the average for the quarter.
Seasonally lower prices for tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumber influenced the fall in vegetable prices (down 14 percent). This is a smaller-than-usual December quarter fall, following a mild winter. Vegetable prices are now slightly higher than a year ago.
Prices for newly built houses excluding land rose 1.7 percent overall, with Auckland up 2.8 percent and Canterbury up 1.7 percent. Housing rentals rose 0.3 percent overall, with Canterbury up 0.9 percent.
International travel prices were higher, with international air fares up 7.3 percent and package holidays up 5.3 percent. These prices usually rise in the December quarter. Domestic air fares also rose, influenced by high demand leading up to the holiday period.
The CPI increased 0.8 percent in the year to the December 2014 quarter. This is the smallest annual rise since the June 2013 quarter.
Housing and household utilities was the main contributor in the latest year, with newly built houses (up 5.4 percent), housing rentals (up 2.1 percent), and electricity (up 3.6 percent) all increasing in price.
Cigarette and tobacco prices increased 11.9 percent, influenced by an increase in excise duty in January 2014.
Petrol (down 4.0 percent) was the main downward contributor. Prices for audio-visual and computing equipment fell 14 percent, after adjusting for quality improvements.
The CPI measures the rate of price change of goods and services purchased by New Zealand households.