Housing and food stabilising growth of inflation

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The Macau inflation rate in February of this year grew by only 0.37 per cent year-on-year reaching 1.91 per cent, the lowest inflation rate since January 2010, according to data provided by the Statistics and Census Services (DSEC).
Last month, the composite Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose to 108.79 from 108.39 one year ago. The results come after a 1.76 per cent yearly jump in January, with the DSEC justifying the 0.42 per cent month-to-month decrease on the Chinese New Year falling at the end of January.
Economist José I. Duarte told Business Daily that the results are “not very significant” and normal as habitation and food prices – which represent more than half of the Composite CPI index – stabilise.
“The index takes into account a group of products that includes habitation and food expenses, which represent more than half of the index. Therefore, with a tendency for stabilisation in those two sectors it is normal to see a tendency for a decrease in the price index growth. Not that habitation and eating prices are low, they’re just not growing as much,” said Mr. Duarte.
According to the report, the price index for food and non-alcoholic beverages increased by 0.14 per cent year-on-year in February, with housing and fuel costs decreasing yearly by 1.86 per cent.
“Macau products mainly come from abroad and with the MOP indexed to the U.S. dollar, which increased its value when compared to the RMB, it means most imports from Mainland China are now cheaper. At the same time there was reduction of pressure on prices coming from overseas demand, namely tourists. If visitor influxes increase again then we might register increases in the inflation rate again,” the economist told Business Daily.

Education up, recreation down
According to the report, inflation growth was mainly driven by dearer charges for eating out, higher rentals for parking spaces, the rising price of gasoline and motor cars, as well as increases in tuition fees and out-patient service charges.
The largest yearly decrease in average price index was registered in the recreation and culture sector, which fell by 8.29 per cent year-on-year and 8.74 month-to-month, something the report justified by the decrease of package tours after the Lunar New Year.
The largest increases in yearly average price growth were registered in education costs, which rose by 7.36 per cent year-on-year in February, followed by hikes in the price index of education and transportation, increasing yearly by 7.17 per cent and 6.97 per cent, respectively.