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Annual inflation eases for fifth consecutive quarter: ABS

Annual inflation has continued to fall from its peak, the latest ABS data has revealed.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has revealed the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 1.0 per cent in the March quarter of 2024 and 3.6 per cent annually.

Although this was higher than the 0.6 per cent rise in the December quarter of 2023, annual inflation has dropped from 4.1 per cent, continuing to ease from the 7.8 per cent peak in December 2022.

The March quarter CPI dataset has marked the fifth consecutive quarter of lower annual inflation since the December 2022 peak.

According to the ABS, the most significant contributors to the March quarter rise were education (5.9 per cent), health (2.8 per cent), housing (0.7 per cent,) and food and non-alcoholic beverages (0.9 per cent).

The quarterly rise in housing was primarily driven by rents, which rose 2.1 per cent during the quarter, and new dwellings purchased by owner-occupiers, up 1.1 per cent on the last quarter.

ABS head of prices statistics Michelle Marquardt said: “Rental prices rose 2.1 per cent for the quarter in line with low vacancy rates across the capital cities. Rents [continue] to increase at their fastest rate in 15 years.”

Furthermore, higher labour and material costs contributed to price rises during the March quarter for construction of new dwellings, which rose 1.1 per cent. This was slightly below the 1.5 per cent rise during the December quarter of 2023.

Annually, the largest contributors to the CPI rise were housing at 4.9 per cent, food and non-alcoholic beverages (3.8 per cent), and alcohol and tobacco (6.3 per cent). Annual trimmed mean inflation was 4 per cent, down from the 4.2 per cent recorded in the previous quarter.

“This is the fifth quarter in a row of lower annual trimmed mean inflation, down from the peak of 6.8 per cent in the December 2022 quarter,” Marquardt said.

March monthly CPI data

Meanwhile, the March monthly CPI indicator rose 3.5 per cent in the 12 months to March from 3.4 per cent, following three consecutive months of no monthly CPI change in December, January, and February.

Annual trimmed mean inflation was 4 per cent in March, slightly up from the 3.9 per cent recorded in February.

Housing was once again one of the primary contributors to the rise, up by 5.2 per cent.

According to the ABS, new dwelling prices rose 5.1 per cent in the 12 months to March, reflecting the higher costs for labour and materials passed on by builders.

This rate of price growth has remained around 5 per cent annually over recent periods, falling from the highs of over 20 per cent recorded during 2022, the ABS has shown.

[RELATED: Monthly CPI unchanged for third consecutive month]

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