25 Oct 2011

Cost of living no longer rising so fast

6:31 pm on 25 October 2011

The cost of living is rising at its slowest rate in more than a year.

Statistics New Zealand figures show inflation in the three months to the end of September was 0.4%, down from 1% in the previous three month period.

The annual inflation rate was 4.6%, down from 5.3% at the end of June and well below the Reserve Bank's most recent estimates of 4.9%.

The biggest contributor to rising living costs was the price of food which was up 1.7% in the quarter.

Once food was excluded prices barely moved, rising just 0.1%.

Transport costs fell in the September quarter for the first time in more than two years, driven by lower petrol prices and air fares.

Petrol prices dropped by just over 3.3%, the biggest quarterly fall since the end of 2008, but are 18% higher than for the same period in 2010.

The figures remove pressure on the Reserve Bank to raise the Official Cash Rate from its record low of 2.5% to control inflation in the near future.

The Bank next reviews the Official Cash Rate on Thursday.

The New Zealand dollar dropped nearly half a cent against the US to 80.3 US cents soon after the figures were released.

CTU says situation till tough for low-income families

The Council of Trade Unions says an easing of inflation figures will mean little for low income households.

CTU economist Bill Rosenberg says the latest figures are just another blow for those on low incomes.

He says the annual increase in the consumer price index shows prices still outstripping wages, which rose 1.9% in the year to June.