Consumer Price Indices for April 2011
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     The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) released today (May 23) the Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures for April 2011.  According to the Composite CPI, overall consumer prices rose by 4.6% in April 2011 over the same month a year earlier, slightly larger than the corresponding increase (4.4%) in March 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 April 2011 was 4.4%, also slightly larger than that in March (4.3%), mainly due to the enlarged increases in private housing rentals and food (excluding meals bought away from home).
  
     On a seasonally adjusted basis, the average monthly rate of increase in the Composite CPI for the 3-month period from February to April 2011 was 0.7%, the same as that for the 3-month period end March 2011.  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 February to April 2011 was 0.6%, and that for the 3-month period from January to March 2011 was 0.7%.
  
     Analysed by sub-index, the year-on-year rates of increase in the CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) were 5.0%, 4.5% and 4.2% respectively in April 2011, which compared to 4.8%, 4.2% and 4.2% respectively in March.  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%, 4.5% and 4.1% respectively in April 2011, which compared to 4.4%, 4.2% and 4.2% respectively in March.
  
     On a seasonally adjusted basis, for the 3-month period from February to April 2011, the average monthly rates of increase in the seasonally adjusted CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) were all 0.7%.  The corresponding rates of increase for the 3-month period from January to March 2011 were 0.8%, 0.7% and 0.6%.  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 February to April 2011 were 0.6%, 0.6% and 0.7% respectively, and for the 3-month period from January to March 2011 were 0.7%, 0.7% and 0.6% respectively.
  
     Amongst the various CPI components, year-on-year increases in prices were recorded in April 2011 for alcoholic drinks and tobacco (19.9% in the Composite CPI and 22.5% in the CPI(A), mainly due to the increase in tobacco duty by 41.5%); food (excluding meals bought away from home) (8.9% in the Composite CPI and 8.7% in the CPI(A)); electricity, gas and water (7.9% in the Composite CPI and 10.9% in the CPI(A)); clothing and footwear (5.3% in the Composite CPI and 4.7% in the CPI(A)); housing (5.1% in the Composite CPI and 5.0% in the CPI(A)); meals bought away from home (4.8% in the Composite CPI and 5.0% in the CPI(A)); transport (4.2% in the Composite CPI and 2.4% in the CPI(A)); miscellaneous goods (3.8% in the Composite CPI and 3.0% in the CPI(A)) and miscellaneous services (2.6% in the Composite CPI and 2.0% in the CPI(A)).
  
     On the other hand, year-on-year decrease in prices were recorded in April 2011 for durable goods (-4.9% in the Composite CPI and -5.4% in the CPI(A)).
  
     Taking the first four months of 2011 together, the Composite CPI rose by 4.0% over a year earlier.  The corresponding increases in the CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) were 4.3%, 3.9% and 3.9%.  Netting out the effects of all Government's one-off relief measures, the Composite CPI, CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) rose by 3.9%, 4.0%, 3.8% and 3.9% respectively in the first four months of 2011 over a year earlier.  

     For the 3 months ended April 2011, the Composite CPI rose by 4.2% over a year earlier, while the CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) rose by 4.5%, 4.1% and 4.0% respectively.  The corresponding increases after netting out the effects of all Government's one-off relief measures were 4.1%, 4.2%, 4.0% and 4.0% respectively.  

     For the 12 months ended April 2011, the Composite CPI was on average 3.1% higher than in the preceding 12-month period.  The corresponding increase in the CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) were 3.3%, 3.0% and 2.9%.  The corresponding increase after netting out the effects of all Government's one-off relief measures were 2.8%, 3.2%, 2.6% and 2.7%.

     The new 2009/10-based CPI series, as was first announced by the C&SD on April 28, 2011, is compiled on the basis of the expenditure patterns obtained from the Household Expenditure Survey (HES) conducted during October 2009 to September 2010.  It replaces the old 2004/05-based series for analysing consumer price changes.  The old series will continue to be compiled in parallel with the new series until the reference month of December 2011.  It is an established practice in Hong Kong for the HES to be conducted and for the CPI series to be rebased once every five years.  Both the old and the new series of CPIs have been exhibiting a similar trend in recent months.

Commentary

     A Government spokesman says that consumer price inflation went up further in April.  Rising food prices and the continued pass-through of higher private residential rentals remained the major driving forces.  The current round of rising inflation in Hong Kong has to be viewed against the background of the sustained above-trend growth of the local economy, elevated food and commodity prices in the international markets amid abundant liquidity, and stronger inflationary pressures in the region.

     The spokesman comments further that inflation is likely to climb up further in the coming months with domestic and external factors both adding to price pressures.  The Government will remain vigilant on the 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 April 2011 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 April 2011 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 number 2805 6403 or email address cpi@censtatd.gov.hk.

Ends/Monday, May 23, 2011
Issued at HKT 16:32

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