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ECONOMY | Tony Chua, Hong Kong
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Overall consumer prices soar 5.7% in August

Inflation seen to rise further in the coming months due to surges in international food prices and private residential rents.

Overall consumer prices rose 5.7% in August over the same month last year, compared to the corresponding increase of 7.9% in July.

The Census & Statistics Department said Thursday the larger increase in July was attributable to the low base of comparison arising from the Government’s payment of public housing rents in July last year. The effect did not come into play in August.

Netting out the effects of all the Government’s one-off relief measures, the year-on-year rate of increase in the Composite Consumer Price Index in August was 6.3%, beating that in July (5.8%), mainly due to the enlarged increases in rents, charges for package tours and prices for fresh vegetables.

The department said inflation is likely to climb further in the coming months before peaking out, as the lagged effects from earlier surges in international food prices and private residential rents will continue to filter through.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the average monthly rate of change in the Composite Consumer Price Index for June to August was -0.6%, and the corresponding rate of change for May to July was 0.3%.

Netting out the effects of the Government’s one-off relief measures, the average monthly rate of increase in the Composite Consumer Price Index for June to August was 0.5%, the same as that for May to July.

Year-on-year price increases were recorded in August for alcohol and tobacco (20.3%), food (excluding meals bought away from home) (11.7%), housing (8.3%), clothing and footwear (7.5%), meals bought away from home (5.7%), transport (4.9%), miscellaneous goods (4.6%) and miscellaneous services (4%).

Year-on-year price falls were recorded for electricity, gas and water (-16.2%) and durable goods (-3.2%).

Taking the first eight months of 2011 together, the Composite Consumer Price Index rose 5.1% over a year earlier. Netting out the effects of the Government’s one-off relief measures, the index rose 4.8%

For the three months ending August, the Composite Consumer Price Index rose 6.4% over a year earlier. The corresponding increases after netting out the effects of the Government’s one-off relief measures were 5.8%.

For the 12 months ending August, the Composite Consumer Price Index was on average 4.3% higher than in the preceding 12-month period. The corresponding increases after netting out the effects of the Government’s one-off relief measures were 4%.

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