Australian consumer price index rises

Sydney, April 24 (IANS) The Australian consumer price index (CPI) rose 0.4 percent in the March quarter 2013, compared with a rise of 0.2 percent in the December quarter 2012, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported Wednesday.

The official CPI figure came in lower than expected, leaving the annual inflation rate at 2.5 percent, up from the 2.2 percent level in the year to the December quarter, reported Xinhua.

Economists had forecast a rise of 0.6 percent in the March quarter and annual rate of 2.7 percent.

The ABS said the most significant price rises in the March quarter were for new dwelling purchase by owner-occupiers, pharmaceutical products, tertiary education and tobacco while the most significant offsetting price falls were for international holiday travel and accommodation, furniture and fruit.

Economists say the inflation figures for the March quarter were in the Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) target range of 2 percent to 3 percent, giving the central bank scope to cut interest rates further, if needed.