ECONOMY | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Inflation rate speeds up slightly to 0.5% in March

This is faster than the 0.3% recorded in the same month last year.

Overall consumer prices slightly accelerated to 0.5% inflation in March, compared to the 0.3% recorded in March last year, according to the Census and Statistics Department (C&SD).

This, however, eased when compared to the average rate of increase in January and February.

The “underlying consumer prices reverted to a small year-on-year increase of 0.2% in March, mainly due to a faster increase in food prices,” a government spokesperson said.

The smaller increase in the composite consumer price index (CPI) in March compared to the two preceding months was linked to the low base comparison due to the government’s payment of public housing rentals.

The waiver of two-thirds of rents for tenants of Group B estates by Hong Kong Housing Society in January 2020 also contributed in the smaller increase.

The C&SD added that upon netting out the effects of all the government’s one-off measures, the year-on-year rate of change in the composite CPI in March at 0.2% is larger than in February at -0.1%.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the average monthly rate of change in the three months ending in March was 0.4%, higher than February.

The various components of the composite CPI that saw year-on-year increases in prices were electricity, gas and water (21.2%), food excluding meals bought away from home (3.1%), meals bought away from home (0.7%), alcoholic drinks and tobacco (0.5% and miscellaneous services (0.4%).

Decreases were seen in transport (-2.3%), durable goods (-1.2%), miscellaneous goods (-0.7%) and housing (-0.5%); whilst clothing and footwear were unchanged.

“Looking ahead, overall price pressures should stay mild in the near term, as global and local economic activities have yet to fully recover from the earlier deep recession. The Government will continue to monitor the situation closely,” the spokesman said.

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