Hong Kong’s CPI records 2.0% year-on-year increase in March amid modest inflation trends

217

23rd April 2024 – (Hong Kong) The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) reported a slight increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for March 2024, indicating a 2.0% year-on-year rise compared to the same month last year. This increment marks a marginal escalation from the average growth recorded in the first two months of the year, which stood at 1.9%.

When adjusted for the effects of the Government’s one-off relief measures, the underlying inflation rate in March was recorded at 1.0%, up slightly from the 0.9% average of January and February 2024. The timing of the Lunar New Year, which fell in different months over the past two years, has been accounted for to neutralise seasonal variations in the data.

The month-on-month comparison also reveals a deceleration in price increases. The CPI for March 2024 showed a 2.0% increase, which is a slight decrease from 2.1% in February 2024. Similarly, the underlying inflation for March was 1.0%, lower than February’s 1.2%.

Seasonally adjusted figures indicate that the average monthly change in the CPI for the three months ending in March remained stable at 0.0%, mirroring the period ending in February 2024.

Breaking down the CPI by sub-index, the CPI(A), CPI(B), and CPI(C) registered year-on-year rises of 2.3%, 1.9%, and 1.7% respectively for March 2024. The underlying inflation rates for these indices showed slightly different patterns, with CPI(A) at 0.8%, CPI(B) at 1.1%, and CPI(C) at 1.3%.

Among the various components of the Composite CPI, significant year-on-year price increases were noted in several categories. Alcoholic drinks and tobacco surged by 17.7%, meals out and takeaway food rose by 3.3%, housing by 3.1%, and miscellaneous services by 2.9%. Conversely, significant declines were observed in electricity, gas, and water, which decreased by 8.7%, along with durable goods and basic food dropping by 1.5% and 0.5% respectively.

For the first quarter of 2024, the Composite CPI increased by 1.9% year-over-year. The respective indices, CPI(A), CPI(B), and CPI(C), showed increases of 2.2%, 1.8%, and 1.8%.

Reflecting on the inflation outlook, a Government spokesperson highlighted that underlying consumer price inflation was modest in March. While food prices, particularly for dining out, continue to rise, basic food costs have slightly declined. Energy-related prices have also seen further reductions. The overall inflation is expected to remain contained in the near term, supported by stable domestic costs and a downward trend in external price pressures. However, geopolitical uncertainties could pose risks to this outlook.