18 Oct 2022

Consumer prices up 2.2 percent, annual rate falls to 7.2 percent

1:44 pm on 18 October 2022
Vegetables and fruit on a market stall.

Photo: 123rf

Consumer prices rose 2.2 percent in the three months ended September driven by higher food and housing costs.

But a fall in global fuel prices helped the annual rate ease marginally to 7.2 percent from the 32-year high of 7.3 percent.

The figures were well above expectations of a quarterly rise of 1.6 percent and an annual figure of 6.6 percent.

Food prices rose 4.1 per cent in the quarter, on the back of more expensive fresh food and groceries, household expenses such as rents and rates rose 2.3 percent, and a lift in air fares boosted transport costs 1.7 percent.

"The cost to construct a new house has continued to rise with supply-chain issues, labour costs and higher demand, all of which combine to push up prices," Nicola Growden, Stats NZ prices senior manager, said.

On an annual basis, food, home ownership, and fuel were the major influences.

The numbers showed a solid core of domestic inflation, known as non-tradables inflation, which rose 6.6 percent for the year, the highest since the data has been collected in 2002.

Tradable inflation, a measure of imported inflation, rose 8.1 percent for the year.

Economists said the strength of the numbers showed inflation was sticky, broadbased and would be a challenge to get under control.

"The outlook for price pressure is one of prickly persistence... Today's report will be like a red rag to an inflation-fighting bull," Kiwibank chief economist Jarrod Kerr said.

"The stickiness of non-tradables inflation also extends the journey back to a 2 percent inflation rate."

"However, domestic inflation pressure remains well supported by the surprising resilience of the economy," Kerr said.

Interest rates

ASB senior economist Mark Smith said the Reserve Bank might now be forced to go even harder to bring inflation under control with higher rises in the official cash rate (OCR).

"With the RBNZ having the inflation bit between its teeth all options are likely to remain on the table.

"We have changed our OCR call to now have a 75 basis point hike in the November monetary statement, and with two 50bp hikes in February and April 2023."

That would take the OCR to 5.25 percent, the highest since late 2008.

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