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Inflation

AUSTRALIA’S Consumer Price Index increased by 0.9 per cent in the March quarter of 2004, up from a 0.5 per cent rise in December. The index rose by 2 per cent in the four quarters to March 2004. Although the 0.9 per cent March quarter CPI increase was somewhat above market expectations, the 2 per cent rise through the year to March was the lowest annual inflation rate since December 1999.

March’s increase was driven by rises in the cost of vegetables (up 13 per cent), automotive fuel (3.4 per cent), pharmaceuticals (11.3 per cent), tertiary education (8.4 per cent), house purchase (1.1 per cent) and secondary education (6.9 per cent). Price decreases were recorded for overseas holidays (down 5.5 per cent), motor vehicles (1.8 per cent), and audio, visual and computing equipment (4.5 per cent)

Perth recorded the lowest of the State capitals’ Consumer Price Index increases during the quarter, at 0.3 per cent.

Through the year to March Perth’s inflation rate was 1.6 per cent, the second lowest after Darwin (1.1 per cent). Perth’s annual inflation rate has been below the national average since September 2002.

Perth's lower inflation in the March quarter was due mainly to relatively small price increases for food and alcoholic drinks, combined with larger price decreases for audiovisual equipment and overseas holidays.

The Reserve Bank of Australia's "trimmed mean" estimate of Australia's core inflation was 2.1 per cent for the year, and 0.6 per cent for the quarter, to March 2004.

Source: ABS Cat.6401.0

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