The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 3.4% in the 12 months to February primarily due to a rise in Housing (+4.6%), Food and non-alcoholic beverages (+4.4%), Alcohol and tobacco (+6.7%) and Insurance and financial services (+8.2%).

The CPI rose 3.4 per cent in the 12 months to February 2024.

Michelle Marquardt, ABS head of prices statistics, said: “Annual inflation was unchanged in February and has been 3.4 per cent for three consecutive months”. 

New dwellings and rents

New dwelling prices rose 4.9% in the 12 months to February. Prices have continued to rise by around 5% annually over the past six months. The increase in new dwelling prices reflects builders continuing to pass on higher costs for labour and materials.

Rents increased 7.6% in the 12 months to February, which continues to reflect strong demand for rental properties and tight rental markets.

Food and non-alcoholic beverages

Food and non-alcoholic beverage prices rose 3.6% in the 12 months to February, down from 4.4% in
January.

The main contributors were Meals out and takeaway foods (+5.4%), Bread and cereal products (+7.0%) and Food products n.e.c. (+4.9%). Compared to 12 months ago, prices fell for Meat and seafood (-2.0%) and Fruit and vegetables (-0.5%).

Electricity and Gas

Electricity prices rose 0.3% in the 12 months to February, compared to a rise of 0.8% to January.  Price rises for electricity have eased as rebates remain in place which lower the cost of electricity for households.

Gas prices fell 2.4% in the 12 months to February, the second consecutive month of annual deflation and down from the peak of 27.2% to May 2023.

Automotive fuel

Automotive fuel prices rose 4.1% in the 12 months to February, up from a rise of 3.1% to January. The rise was driven by higher wholesale fuel prices.

In monthly terms, Automotive fuel prices rose 5.1% in February, the first monthly rise since September 2023.

Inflation is critical in determining the pace and extent of interest rate changes by the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Why is the CPI being released monthly now?

The ABS began publishing a new monthly rolling series of CPI as inflation surged in 2022. The more comprehensive quarterly data set considers a broader range of items to calculate CPI.

The next release will be for March 2024 on 24 April 2024.

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